A HOUSE in York was badly damaged when fire broke out during renovation work.

The blaze began at about 12.45pm yesterday at the £500,000 four-bedroom property, which overlooks the racecourse in Tadcaster Road.

It started in the loft, and crews initially struggled to contain the blaze as the staircase had recently been removed.

Police diverted traffic from Tadcaster Road as firefighters fought for hours to bring the flames under control, using an aerial ladder platform to spray water onto the fire, which gutted the roof and the first floor of the home.

The workmen were outside when emergency services arrived and a couple who own the detached house are understood to have arrived soon afterwards, a fire service spokesman said.

According to property website Zoopla the home, which overlooks the racecourse, sold for £499,000 in December last year.

A fire investigation team was yesterday interviewing witnesses and was due to examine the house to determine the cause of the blaze.

York Station Manager Paul Bennett said the fire was considered serious and was tackled by six engines, along with numerous other support vehicles.

He said at the scene: “The difficulty has been that it has involved the roof.

“With the building work going on in there, there’s no integral staircases so access was difficult. We’re having to tackle the fire from outside using the aerial ladder platform.”

Tilly Murphy said she had been travelling on a Park&Ride bus from Askham Bar when it was stopped and evacuated.

She said: “There was smoke coming from the roof and the fire spread from the roof into the bedroom. The windows went through and bits were falling into the house.”

Eyewitness Elizabeth Tomlinson said at the height of the fire: “I have been here half an hour and the flames are not dying down. That’s what is concerning me. The roof tiles are coming down and bouncing into people’s gardens.”

Crews left the scene at about 5.30pm last night, but were due to revisit throughout the night and into today to check for hot spots.