No arrests as flats arson investigation continues

Investigators at the scene of the fire
Investigators at the scene of the fire

Specialist investigators continue to examine the damage inside a block of fire-hit flats today – as it was warned the blaze could easily have cost lives.

The team of experts – from both Lancashire Police and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service – was called in after more than 40 firefighters tackled flames at the Brereton holiday flats on the Prom at North Shore.

Investigators at the scene of the fire

Investigators at the scene of the fire

The fire left the three-storey building badly damaged and the seafront swamped by thick smoke at around 3.30am yesterday. Six people fled to safety, although there were initially fears they were still trapped inside.

Fire service spokesman John Taylor said investigators are ‘still in the process of gathering evidence’, and said the flat’s occupants were likely to be interviewed.

He said: “Clearly the outcome was the one we wanted – ie there were no casualties.

“We believe it was deliberate and, if someone has started the fire on purpose, they have put those lives at risk, not excluding the firefighters called out to it.

Forty fire-fighters from across the county attended the scene
Pic: Liam Colston

Forty fire-fighters from across the county attended the scene Pic: Liam Colston

“It’s one thing going into an accidental fire, but it’s another to go into one where somebody wanted to damage or injure.”

Mr Taylor also called on landlords and tenants at flats to be prepared for emergencies, adding: “Anyone who has flats or any premises needs to be equipped with measures to keep people safe.

“That’s alarm systems, unrestricted exits, and fire drills. I’m not sure that pertains to this premises, but they got out safely and that’s fortunate.”

Although certain details could not be released this morning for fear of jeopardising the ongoing investigation, pictures showed search and rescue staff from Bamber Bridge and Chorley fire stations scrutinising a ceiling inside one of the rooms.

Climbing ladders, they removed a ceiling panel to reveal what looked like a charred black hole in one corner of the room.

The fire is understood to have engulfed the back end of the building, with the Prom shut in both directions nearby for around four hours.

Det Sgt Neil Smith, from Blackpool CID, told The Gazette there had been no arrests, and reiterated his appeal on Tuesday for witnesses to come forward.

Describing the fire’s origin as a ‘deliberate ignition’, he said there had been no major breakthrough as of this morning.

Anybody with information has been asked to call police on 101, quoting log number 0118 of April 25. Alternatively Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.