Page last updated at 03:19 GMT, Friday, 4 December 2009

Morrisons supermarket fire 'will burn all night'


Fifty firefighters were tackling the blaze

Firefighters were at the scene of a large fire at a Cumbrian supermarket throughout the night.

More than 50 firefighters battled to keep the fire under control at Morrisons supermarket in Penrith.

People in nearby houses were evacuated to Penrith Leisure centre which is being used as an emergency reception centre.

No-one was injured but the damage to the store is described as "extensive", Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said.

Bob Nixon, head of operation support at the fire service, said the store on Brunswick Road was very busy with Christmas shoppers when the alarm was raised at about 1745 GMT on Thursday.

Morrisons staff evacuated the supermarket quickly but access to the scene was initially difficult because the car park was full and there was a large crowd of bystanders, he said.

Fire at Morrisons
The damage is said to be extensive. Pic by Darren Mandale

"At the moment the devastation is quite bad. The damage to the store is extensive," said Mr Nixon.

Firefighters were battling the fire from the outside due to the risk of the store's roof falling in.

Specialist aerial ladders from Carlisle and Barrow were also being used.

By 0330 GMT on Friday there were more than 30 firefighters still at the scene, five fire engines, one aerial platform and a water bowser.

The fire service advised people to stay indoors because the smoke was thick across the town.

Train services on the West Coast main line have not been affected. The store is situated close to a petrol station.

One eye-witness said: "There were large plumes of smoke, and half the building was in flames."

Another eye-witness said the supermarket had been "more or less destroyed".

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