Fire at derelict church in Whitley Bay
Firefighters have been tackling a blaze at a derelict church in Whitley Bay this evening.
9.20pm: At around 8.25pm, police received a report that the Trinity United Reformed Church on the Esplanade in Whitley Bay was on fire. Emergency services attended the scene and the road has been closed to allow them to deal with the incident. Whitley Road has also been closed. A number of nearby residents have also been evacuated but nobody has been injured and nobody was believed to be in the church at the time of the fire. Those who have been evacuated have been advised they can go to the hall attached to the Old Methodist Church on Oxford Street in Whitley Bay. Officers will remain in the area to assist the fire service as they work to extinguish the fire and a cordon is currently in place.
On Twitter, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: 'We have 6 pumps, 2 aerial appliances, 1 command support unit and 3 senior officers en-route to the derelict church fire in #WhitleyBay.
'36 firefighters and 4 senior officers are now in attendance at the derelict church fire in #WhitleyBay'
Inquiries to establish the exact circumstances behind the fire will continue once it has been extinguished. If anyone does have information about the fire, or saw anyone in the area around the time it began, they should contact police on 101, quoting log 1028 06/05/17, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
11.10pm: Latest statement from Northumbria Police: 'Our officers remain at the scene of a fire in Whitley Bay this evening to support the fire service in their operation.
'A cordon remains in place and a number of people have been evacuated from their homes as a precaution. We are currently waiting for a structural engineer to ensure the building on fire is safe before we reduce the cordon and allow people back in their homes.
'A refuge centre has been set up at the church on Oxford Street and we want to thank those affected for their patience. We'll keep you updated as soon as we have any more information.'
11.35pm: Tyne and Wear Rescue Service says that the incident has now been scaled down to four pumps, one aerial appliance and one command support unit.