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Scrapyard blaze report breaks web hits record

A newspaper report on a huge scrapyard blaze which could be seen from 20 miles away has smashed its parent company’s web hits record.

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle’s story about the fire on the Byker estate became the most-viewed story across Trinity Mirror’s network of regional newspaper websites.

Although no-one was injured in the blaze, it garnered more page views than the same newspaper’s coverage of the hunt for Raoul Maot or sister title the Liverpool Echo’s coverage of the Fernando Torres transfer.

The story attracted more than 170,000 page hits while more than 46,000 people logged in to a live blog as the fire took hold.

The fire caused a huge pall of thick black smoke to tower over Newcastle and Gateshead, prompting readers to send in a series of dramatic images captured on mobile phones.

In addition to picture galleries, videos and news reports, the paper also published a map, showing how far away the cloud of smoke could be seen, which was viewed around 10,000 times.

A special late print edition using reader-generated material was published and 4,000 copies were distributed in the city centre.

The Chronicle’s previous record of page views for a single news story was recorded last year, during the hunt for fugitive killer Moat, while the previous record for Trinity Mirror’s network was the Echo’s story about the Torres transfer .

Chronicle editor Paul Robertson said: “On our way to the fire we got so many calls it became apparent this thing was huge.

“While no-one was injured everyone was talking about it as the blaze could be seen 20 miles away. The team very quickly used Twitter and Cover-it-Live on our website to keep everyone up to date with the event and the response was phenomenal.

“Within minutes we had enough material to pull together a late special edition, with a 4,000 print run almost entirely from user generated pictures. Our own photographers got some spectacular shots which we used on the live coverage and the following day along with a picture of the aftermath, while reporters contributed in-print and online throughout the rest of the day and night.

“This was a great example of journalists using all means at their disposal to pull together coverage of a major event, winning praise from readers and users for being the media organisation in the region with the most comprehensive, up-to-date and interactive coverage.”