PICTURES: Dozens of firefighters tackle huge fire at resort flats

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Dozens of firefighters have spent the night battling an inferno that has ripped through a block of flats in North Shore.

The building, in Empress Drive, was already engulfed by flames by the time crews from across the Fylde coast arrived, and has been left structurally unsafe following the fierce fire.

Neighbours were evacuated as crews tackled the huge flames

Neighbours were evacuated as crews tackled the huge flames

It was initially feared somebody may have been trapped inside the flats, which were under construction, and while firefighters have already searched some of the building, they have not yet been able to confirm it was empty.

They will continue their search this morning, a fire service spokesman said, though he said it would be 'extremely unlikely' there was anybody trapped.

Neighbours on either side of the flats were evacuated and the road was closed at around 11.15pm, as firefighters from Blackpool, Bispham, South Shore, Fleetwood, Preston, as well as Hyndburn in east Lancashire, were called to the scene when flames were seen bursting from the building by a member of the public.

They used an aerial ladder platform and powerful hose reel jets from outside the property to successfully stop the fire spreading to nearby homes, before spending around four hours putting the flames out.

Picture by Alex Dale (Twitter: @itsalexdale)

Picture by Alex Dale (Twitter: @itsalexdale)

Crews are expected to remain at the flats throughout the day dampening down and looking for hot-spots, while a specialist fire officer will launch an investigation into how the fire started.

Mark Russell, 55, who lives two doors away from the building, described how the drama unfolded.

He said: "I was watching TV and I could smell burning. I thought someone had lit a bonfire.

"I looked out my back window and saw the smoke, and thought it was next door, but when I came out to have a look I saw what was going on.

The building has been left an empty shell following the blaze

The building has been left an empty shell following the blaze

"The neighbours were out and the fire was really going. Someone had already called the fire brigade and they were here within a minute of me coming out."

Dozens of people stood in the street watching the fire rage behind them, with Mark and his neighbours finally told they could return to their homes by around 2am.

The road had been reopened by 7.30am this morning, though one crew remained on the scene.

A police officer also sat in his car nearby, as youngsters walked by the empty shell of a building on their way to school.

As shown in this picture, taken by Google in July, the flats were being renovated.

As shown in this picture, taken by Google in July, the flats were being renovated.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said officers were initially called by the fire service to help deal with the 'considerable' crowd of on-lookers that had gathered.

They then closed Empress Drive between Holmefield Road and Warbreck Drive, and helped to evacuate residents.