Fire and black smoke billows from block of flats sparking evacuation

A fire erupted in a block of flats in Ashton-under-Lyne near Greater Manchester this afternoon.

Photographs showed smoke billowing through the building on Katherine Street, which eyewitnesses claimed was evacuated safely.

Firefighters have now put out the blaze, with the side of the building in the residential area just off the town centre left scorched.

Katherine Street is currently shut between William Street and Richmond Street, according to the traffic alert service INRIX.

Stagecoach Manchester and Wigan said several bus routes are being redirected.

The bus operator tweeted: ‘Routes 216/219/347, Diversion in both directions via Cavendish Street, Park Parade to Chester Square.

‘This is due to a Police incident on Katherine Street in Ashton. Sorry if this is affecting your journey with us today.’

It remains unclear what caused the fire that sent plumes of smoke to the top of the high-rise.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) told ‘Just before 11.30am this morning five fire engines from Ashton, Hyde, Mossley, Gorton and Hollins fire station were called to reports of a building fire involving flats on Katherine Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne.

‘The crews arrived quickly at scene. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatuses used two safety jets to extinguish the fire.

‘Firefighters have been in attendance for around two hours and are still at the scene.’

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