A MAN has been questioned by police after fire broke out in a shop and closed a major Blackpool road.
Central Drive was closed for almost two hours between Ribble Road and Ashton Road and police arrested a 26-year-old man on suspicion of arson.
The blaze broke out in an abandoned shop at 11.20am on Monday and quickly spread to an upstairs flat.
Onlookers on the busy street reported smoke coming out of the front and back of the building and alerted the emergency services.
Crew manager Andrew Jones, from Blackpool Fire Station, said: “When we arrived there were reports of a shop on fire and on arrival there was smoke coming from the ground floor and the rear of the premises.
“We gained access to the front where there was a well established fire to the rear of the property.
“Four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus brought the fire under control using a hose reel.
“The fire is being treated as suspicious and there is a joint investigation by the police and the fire service.”
Shop owners next door to the fire described how the blaze quickly escalated.
Aram Kerim, 28, an assistant in Ezee Food Shop on Central Drive, said: “There was a lot of smoke coming from the back of the building.
“When the firefighters came they broke the front door down and smoke started to pour out of there.
“I thought the flat had burnt down and I was quite shocked when I saw what had happened.”
Anna Clarkson, 37, from Coinage Laundry next door to the fire, said: “I was loading up my car when I saw a lot of smoke coming from the building.
“There were no flames but a lot of smoke and I saw all the windows jumping around as if they were about to blow. I was scared because we have gas pipes in here and I thought it might spread.”
Chrissie Meryem, a volunteer at the Aiming Higher charity shop on Central Drive, added: “I saw one man running away from the shop but the police caught him and took him away. It looked like the fire had started in the shop and went right through to the back which was quite intense.”
Kacy Ainge, 30, also volunteers for Aiming Higher.
She said: “I know the man who lived in the flat was moving today and it looks like all of his clothes were burnt in the fire.
“I thought the car outside had started smoking but then I noticed smoke coming from the roof and it looked bad.”