Fears that blaze-hit Preston building could collapse
One of the buildings devastated by last night's fierce blaze in Preston is in danger of collapse, fire chiefs said today.
The inferno affected a range of buildings in and around Preston Motor Village Ltd off Southgate, Preston.
The fire appeared to have involved a showroom at the front of the buildings and a breakers yard at the back.
Dozens of cars were destroyed in the blaze - but some vehicles and surrounding premises were spared thanks to the swift action of firefighters.
Around 80 firefighters were involved in the operation at its peak - making it one of the most serious incidents this year behind the massive Winter Hill blaze.
Area manager Ben Norman said officers were damping down at the scene today and starting their investigation.
He said: "Our focus today is on the fire investigation.
"We are remaining open minded but we are considering it could be arson at this point."
Mr Norman said fire crews tackled the blaze quite quickly and managed to stop it spreading to nearby buildings
Around 10 homes were evacuated by firefighters and police as a precaution, but all were allowed back at around 1.30am.
He said today there were still small pockets of fire within the breakers yard building.
There was some concern that the roof could collapse.
Rows of vehicles untouched by the blaze could be seen at the back of the building.
Even some inside appeared unscathed.
But part of the massive site was a scene of devastation, with twisted metal and burned-out vehicles as far as the eye could see.
It is also believed there were gas cannisters on site, increasing the dangers for fire crews.
A number of neighbours were asked to leave their homes last night, including people attending a nearby mosque.
One local resident said: "There was smoke everywhere and you could hear bangs going off.
"Everyone was out in the street trying to see what was going on."