Workers partially flatten fire-hit firm

The premises of Elite Linen in Ball Street, South Shore, has been partially demolished
The premises of Elite Linen in Ball Street, South Shore, has been partially demolished

Residents living near the blaze-hit Elite Linen premises were fed cheeseburgers and chips from a food van as engineers battled to restore their gas and electricity supplies.

Around 33 properties were still without power 24 hours after the South Shore laundry firm, in Ball Street, South Shore, was engulfed by flames on Wednesday evening, while 10 had no gas supply.

Gas engineers working outside the blaze-hit Elite Linen in Ball Street, South Shore yesterday

Gas engineers working outside the blaze-hit Elite Linen in Ball Street, South Shore yesterday

Power was eventually restored on Thursday night, shortly before midnight, Electricity North West – which supplied the free food – said.

And nine homes had their gas supplies checked and switched back on the same night, with the last reconnected yesterday morning.

Resident Muhammad Shahid, 45, who works at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said the food van arrived at around 6.30pm on Thursday.

“They cooked burgers and chips and made tea and coffee,” he said.

Onlookers watch Elite Linen burn on Wednesday evening

Onlookers watch Elite Linen burn on Wednesday evening

“Community support officers were trying to manage the queue, but there was only a couple of people here, so no burgers were stolen!”

The investigation into the fierce blaze, which started at around 7.15pm and sent huge plumes of arid black smoke spilling into the air, was still underway yesterday.

The building, which was in danger of collapsing after being left a charred, burned-out shell, has now been partially demolished.

Firefighters used an aerial ladder platform to tackle a small pocket of fire found burning in the building’s basement, while specialist investigators have been carrying out inquiries nearby.

They have been collating CCTV footage, speaking to witnesses, and searching for forensic evidence, it is understood.

Mr Shahid said: “When they started to demolish the building there was smoke. They were trying to get down the top of it to get to the basement.”

A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said access to the building had been restricted because of the danger it posed, and said the cause of the blaze was still being treated as ‘explained’.

Around 40 firefighters from across the county, some only in the resort for a training exercise at the hospital’s old Parkwood mental health unit, were called to tackle the ferocious fire, which saw 50 999 calls lodged.

Around 30 homes were evacuated, with hundreds of residents and passers-by watching the drama unfold from behind police cordons in Ball Street, Duke Street, and Lytham Road.

A handful took refuge at Palatine Leisure Centre in St Anne’s Road, where the council handed out refreshments.

Although Elite Linen, also based in Manchester, was gutted, fire crews were successful in their attempts to stop the fire spreading.