Probe after blaze rips through Blackburn dilapidated Victorian presbytery (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Probe after blaze rips through Blackburn dilapidated Victorian presbytery
9:14am Friday 21st September 2012 in News
A HUGE blaze tore through a dilapidated Victorian presbytery in a suspected arson attack.
The large detached property was ‘gutted’ in the fire which is understood to have started on the second floor of St John the Vianney RC Church Presbytery, Livesey Branch Road, Blackburn.
Residents living near the historic building, which has been empty for around six years, said they were angry it had been left to wrack and ruin, with only a barrier at the road entrance being put up to deter travellers and thieves getting on to the land.
And parish priest Father Anthony Dutton said this was just the latest in a long list of attacks in recent months.
He said: “A parishioner phoned me to tell me that the house was on fire.
“It is appalling, there has been a lot of vandalism over the past 12 months, we have had to keep sealing up the windows and doors.
“The property is due to go on the market next month so this is just terrible.”
David Charmley, 62, who lives in Meadow rise, just behind the presbytery, said somebody needed to take responsibility for the dilapidated building. He said: “It is such a shame, it has got a lot of history. You would have thought somebody would have done something with it.
“I would like to see it redone if it can be, it is a beautiful old building, but it will probably end up being pulled down now.
“It is really sad.”
Two crews attended Thursday evening’s incident and police were also called to direct traffic away from the burning building over concerns the fire had caused it to become structurally unsafe and to enable firefighters to access a water source on the other side of the road.
Blackburn crew manager Chris Foggarty said fire investigators were now looking into the cause of the blaze.
He said: “When we got there at just after 8pm the flames were coming through the roof and the extent of the damage meant the structure became unsafe.”
“Youths had been seen round the area and we believe they may have set fire to the property.
“It was dangerous for crews because quite a lot of the floors were missing where wiring has been stolen.”
Inspector Ilyas Mohmed, of Blackburn police, said: “As yet we do not know how the fire started but fire investigators are working to identify the source.
“Once we have more information the fire will be investigated by CID.”
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