BLACKBURN Mall and town hall were both evacuated after a small fire broke out outside the town hall.

Hundreds of shoppers, store workers and retail bosses were evacuated from the building at 12.40pm but were allowed back in just over 30 minutes later.

The alarm sounded in both the Mall and town hall as they are both connected to the same alarm system.

Loraine Jones, General Manager at The Mall Blackburn, said: "The Mall Blackburn was safely evacuated this afternoon after a fire alarm sounded at the Town Hall.

"The safety of our customers, retailers and staff is of paramount importance and all procedures were followed efficiently and correctly."

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: "We received reports of a fire at the town hall.

"We evacuated the town hall and the Mall as a precaution which has now been dealt with by the fire service."

A spokesman for Lancashire Fire said: "An automatic fire alarm sounded at Blackburn town hall at 12.42pm.

"Two fire engines and crew turned up to find a small fire of rubbish on the entrance of the concrete steps at the town hall.

"We have launched an investigation into the fire which hasn't been ruled out as suspicious."