Investigation launched after 40 firefighters battle 'deliberate' blaze in Preston
An investigation has been launched into a deliberate fire after moreÂ than 40 firefighters battled a blaze at a derelict pub in Preston, say fire crews.
Six fire engines from across the county together with an aerial ladder platform and a command unit were attended the blaze on Manchester Road.
Firefighters were called out to the former Beat Street Cafe just before 5am on Thursday, November 30 amid fears that people may have been trapped in the building.
Crews also faced an explosion risk after they discovered an LPG canister which had been stored at the rear of the property.
Manchester Road was closed between Avenham Lane and Church Street.
Watch manager for Preston fire station Mark Woodward said: "We initial set off with four fire engines but on arrival we were met by a well developed fire.
"We immediately requested another two engines and an aerial ladder platform in case the fire spread into the roof.
"Crews with jets and hoses trained water onto the fire which was spreading around the building.
"We then quickly spotted an LPG canister at the rear of the property and immediately withdrew crews to a point of safety.
"We worked to cool the canister to reduce the risk of explosion.
"Once it was deemed safe we sent crews in to search the building as we were previously aware that the building had been used by squatters.
"Six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the building and conducted a thorough search of all three floors and a basement. Nobody was found.
"Police and fire services have launched an investigation into the fire which is believed to have been started deliberately.
"This was a dangerous fire due to the LPG canister which our crews identified very quickly.
"The firefighters did very well to identify the risk, search the premises and extinguish the fire so quickly.
"The Salvation Army also provided the crews with hot drinks which helped keep us warm and kept our spirits up."
A joint fire and police investigation has been launched.
Manchester road remains closed.