Investigation after 'arson attack' causes explosions at Ribbleton business
The force of the fire, which started in an the outbuilding of Autopoint Car Accessories, was said to be so fierce that it blew the metal doors off the unit and metal canisters that were projected from the blast have been pictured wrapped around metal railings.
Firefighters say they believe the fire is thought to have been started after a mattress was set alight next to a storage unit for the business.
Crews are now warning residents to ensure that their rubbish is cleared away and to be aware of the potentially life threatening consequences of starting deliberate fires.
Watch Manager for Preston Fire Station David Shaw said: "This is the sixth incident we have attended in this area in the last 10 days.
"We believe that a mattress that had been discarded was set alight and this caused the fire.
"The heat from the fire caused aerosols, which were contained in the unit, to explode.
"While this was going on four fire engines, effectively the entire of Preston's cover, was called out to attend this one incident.
"At the same time there was a crash on the M6 which fire services needed to attend.
"The people who are starting these fires are putting people's lives at risk.
"We are actively looking at CCTV from the area and will be advising police.
"One of our officers served in Northern Ireland during the 80s and said the scenes were so bad they reminded him of his time in Crossmaglen.
"This fire could easily have been avoided if the rubbish in the area had been discarded of properly."
Business owner Amar Iqbal said he was devastated by the loss and disruption to his business which has been at the premises since 2005.
The 36 year-old said: "We are devastated, it was very emotional to wake up to these scenes.
"We have lost thousands of pounds worth of stock and we weren't insured as it's very difficult to insure outbuildings containing these kinds of materials.
"We have lost a lot of stock. Our shelving units have been lost.
"We are in the process of clearing up and moving on. We've never had any problems like this before."
Residents in the area have told how they were woken up by the sound of exploding aerosols.
Resident Pam Moss said: "I woke up and heard the bangs. I thought somebody was loading a truck up and looked out of the window.
"I could see flames and smoke coming from over the rooftops. I thought somebody's house was on fire but a neighbour told me it was a fire at the back of the shops."
A joint police and fire service investigation has been launched. Anybody who saw anyone starting fires in the area over the past few weeks is asked to call 101.