ARSONISTS are believed to be behind another fire at an historic Blackburn property, prompting calls for action to protect it.

Four fire crews were called to the derelict Griffin Lodge and Coach House, in Cavendish Place, Blackburn, in the early hours of Saturday, and found flames and smoke pouring from the stable buildings.

The fire was sparked in the outbuildings at about midnight and crews battled the blaze until 5am. They said the 19th century outbuildings were ‘all but destroyed’.

Meanwhile, crews from Darwen had to cover a fire at Witton Mill, a disused office building in nearby Stancliffe Street, which was reported shortly after the blaze at Griffin Lodge. Police were investigating whether the two fires were linked.

Griffin Lodge and Coach House has become a magnet for vandals and anti-social youths, and an arson attack on the mansion house in October last year left the Grade Two-listed building as a burnt-out shell.

Residents and Mill Hill councillor Carol Walsh have now called on owners Blackburn with Darwen Council to take urgent action.

The council had found a potential buyer before a fire in October, but the sale then stalled.

Affectionately known by locals as ‘red doors’, Griffin Lodge was built in 1824 by Blackburn cotton magnate Thomas Dugdale, and was most recently used by the Lancashire Museum Service, until being vacated several years ago.

Coun Walsh said: “It’s tragic because it’s such a lovely property and such a big part of the area.

“There definitely needs to be something done quickly, before we lose it completely.

“I’ll be following this up with the resources department today.

“The house was going to be done up with insurance money from the last fire, and hopefully that can still happen.”

Jim Smith, another Mill Hill councillor and cabinet member for environment said: “We are still looking at the options at the moment, to see if it can be rebuilt and put back into working order.

“The mansion house is completely burnt out and can’t be sold like that.

“Whoever has done this needs arresting and locking up for a very long time because this is a beautiful building and a piece of Griffin Park history.”

Tom Ashworth, watch manager at Blackburn fire station, said: “The property has been disused for a number of years and kids have been getting in through a window at the back and using it as a den.

“The stable buildings are now pretty much destroyed apart from the brickwork.”