Arson not ruled out in blaze that saw people evacuated from homes and mosque in Preston
Fire investigators say they have not ruled out arson as the cause of a massive blaze in Preston overnight.
At its peak around 60 firefighters were battling the flames at a commercial premises in Frank Street, Deepdale, and explosions were heard in the local area.
People in the nearby mosque and those in neighbouring houses were evacuated because of concerns about the risk of possibly toxic fumes, finally being allowed home at around 2am.
Fire crews have been at the scene damping down all day, and an investigation has begun into how the fire in the car showroom started.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Manager Ben Norman confirmed that the building where the fire started has been completed gutted, and will need to be demolished for safety reasons.
Fire crews left the scene at around 5pm, although periodic inspections will continue.
However, fire crews managed to prevent the flames from spreading to other businesses on the industrial estate.
The blaze broke out at around 9pm and at its peak 60 firefighters, 14 appliances and aerial platforms were at the scene.
Shortly after midnight fire crews announced that they had got the blaze under control.
A spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue said: "The fire has now been contained by firefighters. We will remain at the scene throughout the night but our attendance will be scaled down. The cause of the fire is now under investigation.
"Please avoid the area and keep windows and doors shut if you have them open."
A number of roads were closed in the area including St George’s Road, Frank Street and Southgate.
United Utilities has warned that tap water in the area could be at low pressure or discoloured as a result of the firefighting operation.
A spokesman said: "You may have noticed that the water is coming out of your tap slower than usual or may have gone off altogether. We are aware that firefighters are fighting a fire nearby and they are pulling a large quantity of water from the main supply.
"When a large quantity of water is taken from the main, this can cause properties nearby to experience no water or poor pressure. The disturbance to the supply may also mean that some people may experience discoloured or brown water."