A DEVASTATING fire has gutted Northwich's covered market.

The fire was reported around 3am, and at its height eight fire crews from across the county were at the scene.

Northwich Guardian:

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service says firefighters, wearing breathing apparatus, now have the fire surrounded and under control as of 12.15pm.

Due to the amount of smoke in the area, residents in and around London Road were advised to keep doors and windows closed as a precaution.

Crews are using thermal imaging cameras to monitor the temperature and continuing to dampen down the affected areas while digging out the hotspots.

Cllr Richard Beacham, Cheshire West and Chester Council cabinet member, said: “We are grateful that there has been no loss of life from the fire at Northwich outdoor market.

IN PICTURES >>> Firefighters tackle Northwich outdoor market blaze

“Emergency services are in the process of dealing with this incident and it is obviously having an impact on the market traders and nearby businesses, whose welfare is our main concern.

“We understand the impact the incident will have on traders, and we will be working with them and the implications across the course of today.

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“The council is also working with other agencies to ensure public safety.”

Northwich Guardian:

There are now five crews at the scene, who are likely to remain in the area throughout the day.

Motorists are being also advised to avoid the area, although no roads are closed.

Northwich Guardian:

Including response and relief teams, fire crews from Northwich, Winsford, Warrington, Middlewich, Knutsford Holmes Chapel, Crewe, Lymm, Ellesmere Port, Nantwich, Sandbach, Widnes, Congleton, Poynton, Audlem and Macclesfield have so far attended the scene.

A Cheshire Fire update at 6.30am said: "Firefighters remain at the scene and continue to make good progress.

Northwich Guardian:

"The affected area has been split into operational sectors and crews, wearing breathing apparatus, are using main jets, hose reel jets and ground monitors to tackle the fire.

"The number of fire appliances have now been reduced to five and crews are likely to be there throughout the day.

Northwich Guardian:

Photo: Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

"Watling Street remains open to slow-moving essential traffic. Pedestrian access in the immediate vicinity of the market is currently restricted.

Northwich Guardian:

"Shelter advice previously issued for local residents has now been lifted. People living in the area are thanked for their co-operation."

Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury is set to attend the scene later today.

He said: "This is devastating news and our thoughts go out to the hardworking traders whose livelihoods are at stake, as well as the firefighters once again putting their safety on the line.

"I'm in touch with local councilors, Cheshire West and Chester Council and the Fire and Rescue Service for updates and I'll be attending the site later this morning to try and see first hand what's happened.

"I will of course provide updates as soon as I get them."

8.30am: Cheshire Fire update

"Due to an increase in smoke people walking past the ongoing incident are being kept to a minimum and local businesses nearby are being advised to keep windows and doors shut.

"Firefighters are using one breathing apparatus, the aerial ladder platform and a hose reel jet in one sector, two main jets in another sector while two breathing apparatus and a main jet are being used in another."

Northwich Guardian:

The view from Barons Quay car park

Bus operator Arriva posted on Twitter that it was unable to operate any services into Northwich town centre.

The post said: "Winsford services will be operating to Kingsmead, London Rd junction."

Cllr Sam Naylor, CWAC member for the town centre, said: "Shocking news and new year start for traders and [I] will work with CWAC for alternatives. Will visit but big thanks to fire fighters and other services!"