Residents reported hearing several loud bangs as a suspected drugs lab in Marton went up in flames.
Two people - a 42-year-old man and 28-year-old woman - were arrested on suspicion of producing a controlled drug, with the man taken to hospital with burns after the alleged “drugs production” operation burnt down inside a garage in Division Lane, police said.
An investigation into the lab, suspected to be making class B drug amphetamine, and the cause of the fire – which sent a thick, black column of smoke into the blue sky at around 4.50pm yesterday – is now underway.
The scene was cordoned off for around nine hours, until the early hours of today, as specialists were brought in amid fears of toxic chemicals.
And officials remained at the scene this morning, where investigators from the fire service and police are expected to sift through the charred remains of the garage to search for potentially vital evidence.
Lesley McNicholson, who lives in Division Lane, said: “The first thing I heard was an explosion and glass shattering. Then there was a second explosion a few minutes later, and more glass shattering, and then all the black smoke and flames.
“We never see anybody there. I don’t know whether it is rented out still, because it was rented for quite a while. There’s been cars coming and going but you never see anybody go in.”
Dot Barnes added: “We were in the back when we heard the explosion.
“The garage was on fire and I think it was gone into the kitchen. It was well alight.
And her husband Steve said: “You stand there looking at it and it takes you a minute for somebody to say ‘Is there anybody inside?’, and at the same time a man did come out.”
Fire engines and crews from Blackpool’s Forest Gate station, South Shore, and St Annes were called to the fire.
Firefighters wore breathing masks and used one water jet to put out the flames, with the smoke quickly dissipating from the area.
A spokesman for the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) said: “Due to firefighters not knowing which chemicals had been used on the fire, a cordon was put in place around the incident."
Crews finally left at around 2.20am yesterday.