A HUGE blaze in a Thornton workshop started when a car being repaired caught fire, according to firefighters at the scene.

They were called to Bronte Works, in Sapgate Lane, Thornton, at around 3.30pm yesterday and nearly fifty firefighters helped tackle the blaze at its height.

Crews still remain at the workshop this morning as they dampen down and check for any remaining hotstpots in the badly damaged structure.

Large flames could be seen leaping out of the old scrap vehicle workshop and residents in cottages nearby were forced to evacuate their homes and take refuge in Thornton Community Centre until 11pm on Tuesday.

There are concerns about the structure in strong winds after the blaze destroyed the roof but left some metal parts at risk of coming away.

Watch Commander McKenna, from Fairweather Green Fire Station, said: "Staff were working on a car engine and when they came back to it they found it on fire.

"The wind got up and pushed the fire from one end to the other.

"There's still crews there because it's an unsafe structure and there is a lot of metal flapping around because the wind has been horrendous.

"There's a chance the roof could collapse and one gable end could fall outwards, so the area has been cordoned off.

"There are some hotspots in the building that they are struggling to hit."

Cllr Sue Duffy (Thornton & Allerton, Labour) said: "First of all we would like to extend our thanks to the fire service who responded promptly to the call received at 3.30pm of a fire at the Bronte Works workshop which is used for old and scrap vehicles.

"Units from across the district were deployed to attend to the incident and we know from speaking to residents that the firefighters did everything possible to protect the surrounding properties and the people who live in the area.

"Some residents were evacuated from their homes and we can’t thank other residents and Thornton Community Centre enough for opening their doors to those in this situation.

"We understand the relevant investigations will now take place to establish a cause and whilst this incident was distressing to many we were relieved to hear there were no reported injuries.

"We will keep in contact with the fire service and update residents as and when further information becomes available."

A West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesperson said last night that  100 per cent of the site was involved in the fire, with exposure risk to three sides.

Four breathing apparatus, four large jets, one hand jet and two ground monitors were in use and eight engines from across the district were at the scene when it first broke out.