A man who was pulled from a burning building in Blackpool town centre is in a “critical condition” in hospital, police say.
Firefighters were called to tackle a blaze at a flat above shops in Central Drive, Blackpool, close to the junction with Bethesda Road.
The man was rushed to Blackpool Victoria Hospital following the incident on Tuesday.
Police closed part of Central Drive while crews from five fire engines tackled the blaze at a boarded-up flat.
Detectives have so far been unable to identify the man rescued from the property, above Terry’s Carpets, which is understood to have been used as a squat by homeless people.
An investigation is now under way into the cause of the blaze but detectives say it is not being treated as suspicious.
One concerned onlooker, who was on her way into town at the time, today told of her horror when firefighters emerged from the building with the casualty.
The woman, who asked not to be named, told The Gazette: “He was brought out on a stretcher covered in soot.
“He was lifeless but he wasn’t covered up so he must have been alive.
“I hope he is all right – I would like to know he is OK.”
Five fire engines from across the Fylde coast rushed to the scene at 12.25pm yesterday, amid fears people were trapped inside the burning building and that the flames could quickly spread to neighbouring properties.
Firefighters pulled the man from the flat before resuming the search for people inside.
However, no other casualties were found.
A Lancashire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “The fire was in boarded-up flat but local knowledge suggested there was a possibility that homeless people may on occasion stay there.
“Five fire engines and crews – two from Forest Gate and one each from South Shore, Bispham and St Annes – mobilised to enable thorough and rapid search of premises by teams of firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus.
“A male casualty was located and rescued by firefighters, before being conveyed to hospital by ambulance.
“Firefighters extinguished the fire using two hose-reel jets and used two portable fan units to extract the smoke and heat.”
Police today said it appears the fire started close to where the man was found in the flat.
Det Sgt Simon Pritchard, of Blackpool CID, said: “The man is still in a critical condition in the intensive care unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
“After a joint investigation with Lancashire Fire and Rescue intelligence officers and police, the fire is not being treated as suspicious.”
Detectives were today working to identify the man.
A spokesman for the North West Ambulance Service said: “We got a call from the fire service at 12.25pm to Central Drive, in Blackpool.
“Two ambulances and a paramedic vehicle were sent to the scene. The ambulances arrived at 12.29pm.
“One patient, a male, was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.”
Central Drive was re-opened to traffic around two hours later.
Some passers-by voiced their concerns for Terry’s Carpets, which was affected by the blaze.
One woman, who also asked not to be named, said: “I thought it was the shop on fire at first.
“I have just had my carpets done by him in the last few days.
“Half of Blackpool gets their carpets from there.”
Another said: “It is just terrifying.
“I hope the man is all right.”