Fire crews have been performing regular checks at the site of a huge farm fire, which killed nearly 16,000 chickens.

At its height yesterday, six Cumbrian fire crews were at the scene, on the outskirts of Carlisle, battling the massive blaze.

The fire, in a huge chicken shed, sent smoke billowing across Carlisle.

Firefighters managed to stop it spreading to a second shed, which contained similar numbers of chickens.

Crews have since been returning to the scene at regular intervals through the night to check it was safe.

Residents living in the Raffles and Morton area of the city were advised to close their windows as thick black smoke from the blaze adjacent to Orton Road south west of Carlisle drifted westwards.

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service group manager Craig Drinkald said the fire was in a building measuring 70 metres by 30 metres which was housing around 16,000 chickens.

The fire crews involved in the operation came from Wigton, Aspatria, Longtown, Gretna, and two from Penrith.

Lurid orange flames could be seen leaping 30 feet into the air as the roof of the shed collapsed earlier this afternoon.

Mr Drinkald said the fire crews had focused their efforts on saving the adjacent chicken shed, containing a similar number of chicken. It was thought unlikely that the birds in the burning shed could be saved.

Mr Drinkald added that the fire fighting operation was being scaled down after the successful efforts of the crews.

He added: "The cause of the fire is now under investigation but there is nothing to suggest it was untoward."

As the fire crews were working on that fire, yet more fire crews - from the stations in east and west Carlisle - were called to a fire in Dalesman Drive, Carlisle, which severely damaged a detached house.

That firefighting operation was complicated by a gas leak which for a time prevented fire crews getting safely into the property. The family living in the house escaped without injury.