A FORMER factory and a neighbouring terraced house have been gutted in a suspected arson attack in Darwen.
Residents on Heys Lane were evacuated on Sunday night at around 8.30 as five fire crews tackled the blaze at the former Marianah Kitchens building.
Kathryn McAuley, whose home on Heys Lane had water damage, said: “It was petrifying.
“The blaze was devastating and our neighbours' house which joins onto the factory has been destroyed as the smoke spread through the attic.
“They work away and were not in the house so they did not know about it
“We had some smoke coming through the attic and into our house.
“It could have been so much worse as there is a welding firm next to it and there are blue propane bottles in there and if they had gone up the street would have gone up.
“The owner is away on holiday but his son came and let the fire crews in and they sorted it.
“I was worried about my four cats who were still in the house.
"We were told by the fire brigade that we were not allowed back in the house.
“They have told us there is no structural damage but we need to turn electrics off after the water damage.
“I think it spread so quickly was because there was wood stored on the first floor and that just went up.”
Mrs McAuley said her husband has spotted a girl and a boy leaving the building just before the fire was spotted.
She said: “Then he saw there was a fire so he had to think about chasing them or calling 999 which he did and got everyone out to move their cars and get out of the houses. It has been derelict for a while.
“It was shocking as this is a quiet street and everybody looks after each other.”
There were a number of road closures in place throughout the night including Dove Lane at the junction of Greenway Street, Heys Lane at the junction of Broughton Street and Dove Lane with Exchange Street at the railway bridge.
A fire service spokesman said: “We were called to the incident at 8.30pm at the former kitchen manufacturers and used an aerial platform to help put the fire out.
“We put the fire out in the early hours and are now investigating the cause which is being treated as arson.
"A stinger unit from Blackburn was used to stop the fire from spreading.
"The commercial unit and one home on the street have both been destroyed."
Currently assisting Ambulance and Fire and Rescue at a factory fire in Darwen. Some roads are closed around Heys Lane and Bright Street. #Team3 #OneTeam #999— BwD Police (@BlackburnPolice) September 16, 2018
A police spokesman said: “We were made aware of the incident at around 9pm last night.
“We have been liaising with the fire service and it is being treated as suspicious.
“Anyone with information should contact the police with the log 1330 on September 16.”