THE devastating blaze at York's main rubbish depot caused more than £700,000 in damage, council chiefs revealed today.

Hundreds of homes and businesses suffered disruption to their refuse collections after the fire destroyed six refuse collection wagons inside a garage at the Foss Islands Road site.

The Evening Press reported yesterday that more than 25 firefighters battled to bring the flames under control and the road was closed for more than three hours.

A City of York Council spokeswoman said all refuse rounds should be back to normal today, although some bins may be emptied a few hours later than the normal time.

The spokeswoman confirmed that none of the six fire-damaged vehicles had been the new ones used for recycling, but they would still cost in the region of £700,000 to replace.

Other costs - expected to run into thousands of pounds - would be repairs to the damaged garage building and to pay for the hiring out of the relief bin wagons.

"We are fully insured," the spokeswoman said.

"We are asking those people affected to bear with us."

The cause of the blaze is still being investigated, but fire chiefs believe an electrical fault in one of the trucks was to blame.

Fire crews from Acomb, York and Huntington who tackled the blaze were initially kept back for safety reasons, as the intense heat exploded tyres from the wagons into the air, blowing a hole in the warehouse roof.

Water was pumped from the River Foss to feed a high-powered jet used on an aerial ladder which stopped the flames spreading to other trucks.

The council's waste chief Geoff Derham praised the fire crews' prompt action which "saved a bad situation from becoming an absolute disaster".

York fire station officer Rob Horton said crews who had been fighting

the blaze had kept at a safe distance at first because the tyres had been exploding with such force.

Updated: 10:31 Tuesday, February 14, 2006