FIREARMS officers were called after a gun was seen being waved around during a mass brawl in Blackburn.

Police received several 999 calls from people who saw the weapon as up to 13 men clashed on land near the Navigation pub in Canal Street.

Several search units and the police helicopter spent five hours trying to find the men after the showdown between two gangs.

Police said trouble started when the two groups, believed to be from Blackburn and Darwen, turned up for a ‘pre-arranged fight’ in Mill Hill at around 1.30pm on Sunday.

They believe the fight was the result of two gang members failing to settle a disagreement in Blackburn town centre the previous night.

Despite several searches no firearm has been recovered.

DI Jill Johnson, of Blackburn CID, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are still in the very early stages of the investigation.

“We are analysing nearby CCTV footage to try and establish if a firearm or imitation weapon was indeed brought to the brawl.

“There are people in custody and further arrests and police searches will take place.

“No firearm has yet been recovered.

“I am appealing to anyone who was in the Mill Hill area on Sunday afternoon to come forward.

“They could hold useful clues about the lead-up to the fight.

“We are doing everything we can to establish exactly what happened.

“I urge anyone with any information no matter how small to contact police.”

Detectives said nobody was injured in the brawl which dispersed when officers arrived.

The landlord of the Navigation Pub, near to where the incident took place, said: “I did see a big fight just over the canal bridge.

“I don’t know who was fighting but it sounded pretty bad.

“The fight had nothing to do with my pub.

“I did hear rumours a gun was seen but I can’t say if that’s true because I didn’t see it.”

Three men aged 23, 25 and 36 all from Blackburn have been arrested and released on police bail on suspicion of affray.

Anyone who witnessed the incident should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.