Hundreds of commuters were evacuated after fire broke out in one of the region's busiest Metro stations
An electrical fire in the basement of Gateshead Stadium caused the evacuation at 4.50pm - when the station was packed with rush hour passengers. The station was evacuated by Nexus staff and the fire brigade gave the all-clear for it to re-open half an hour later.
Nexus bosses believe the fire was accidentally started by contractors carrying out work under the tracks, but stressed it was only a small blaze.
A spokesman said: "There would have been hundreds of people rather than dozens in Gateshead Station at the time, so it was a big task to clear the station. It is thanks to the efficiency of the staff that we managed to clear everyone in three minutes in what is one of our busiest stations.
"The fire brigade said the fire may have been caused by contractors working in the basement and they will be producing a report."
A brigade spokesman said crews had been at the station for around two hours, tackling the blaze and making sure the area was safe.
"Early indications were that it was caused by a control box catching fire, but we will be waiting for a full report."