ARSONISTS are being blamed after the basement of a taxi office was destroyed in a fire.

Two crews from Nelson fire station spent almost an hour putting out the blaze at A1 Taxis’ Rigby Street rank on Sunday night.

Lancashire police are investigate the incident and fire chiefs warned that it could easily have been fatal.

The basement, which had a toilet and was used as storage space, was left completely burnt out following the fire, which started at around 8pm.

The upstairs office, beside Pendle Council’s Rigby Street car park, was unoccupied at the time and was not damaged by the flames.

Rob Barker, crew manager at Nelson fire station, said: “We attended the scene at A1 Taxis in Rigby Street, Nelson, shortly after we received the call at 8pm on Sunday night.

“We are currently conducting a joint investigation with the police.

“We were at the scene for an hour whilst two crews tackled the fire. The ground floor toilet and the store room were affected by the fire. There was no one in the building at the time and we believe that it was started deliberately.”

The taxi firm declined to comment on the fire, but confirmed that it still occupied the unit. Mr Barker added: “The fire looks to have been started deliberately and a joint investigation between the fire service and police is being carried out. Deliberate fires can cost lives.

They also put a strain on fire service resources that may be required elsewhere.”