Firefighters from across the district spent hours battling a fierce blaze that ripped through a city centre mill.

Thick plumes of dark smoke could be seen in the city centre sky last night as the fire ripped through the four-storey Providence Mills building, on Tetley Street, just off Thornton Road.

Police, paramedics and firefighters were at the scene after the blaze started around 7.30pm with crews in cranes trying to dampen down the flames.

The roof of the empty building collapsed as flames leapt through it and windows, with the fire visible from nearby streets. A cordon was in place on Thornton Road as the area was secured and to keep the public back.

Many could see the plumes of smoke from nearby City Park, where they were gathered to watch the preparations for tomorrow’s performance of Carmen. A member of the public, who did not want to be named, said: “I was watching the Bollywood preparations in City Park when I heard fire engines rushing past.

“I went to see what was happening. I couldn’t believe my eyes the smoke and flames were leaping out the building when I first arrived at about 7.40pm.”

Another passer-by, Rob Holmes, of Halifax, said: “I was in a city centre pub and someone said to me they could see a lot of smoke outside. I left the pub to see what was happening and saw the old mill on fire.”

A West Yorkshire Fire Service spokesman said: “Crews have used specialist equipment including five large jets and two aerial appliances.

“Three appliances from Bradford and Odsal were sent out to the blaze.

“Further pumps and specialist appliances and officers were called from other parts of the brigade to assist.”

In all eight fire crews were at the scene. The cause of the blaze is not yet known.