FIREFIGHTERS are calling for a ‘dangerous’ derelict mill that is repeatedly targeted by arsonists to be demolished ‘before someone is killed’.
Albert Mill in Whitworth has been set alight seven times in the past two months, most recently on Tuesday, and is in such a state of disrepair it poses a risk of falling down, the fire service said.
Provisional plans for 49 two and three-bedroom homes on the site off Market Street were approved by Rossendale Council in May, providing developers submit acceptable detailed plans for the work.
The site is currently owned by three separate companies. It has recently been boarded up following council enforcement notices being posted, however the fire service said the boards have been useless at preventing trespassers getting into the building.
Regeneration bosses at the council agreed the building has been derelict for ‘far too long’ and said the local authority would use its legal powers to ensure to ensure the building is demolished if owners do not stop the problem ‘soon’.
Firefighter Darren Rothwell, of Bacup Fire Station, tackled the blaze on Tuesday and was present when his workmate Chris Farrow fell through a hole in the floor and broke his back while answering an emergency call there in May 2009.
He said: “It’s very dangerous there, for members of the public, children and firefighters.
“It attracts the wrong type of people, who drink and smoke and set fires there on a weekly basis.
“They just kick the boards off and get in that way. It looks stable from the outside but the building is on the brink of collapse.
“It is only a matter of time before a child gets injured or killed there. It’s sad that it takes something like that to happen before the authorities will take notice and do something about it.”
Coun Andy MacNae, head of regeneration at the council, said: “It’s the responsibility of the owners to sort the place out, they have the liability on it and it’s just not acceptable. It’s been like that far too long.
“We are on with this and putting a lot of pressure on these owners, and we are prepared to use our legal powers if the owners don’t stop the problem soon.”
A Rossendale Council spokesman said: “The owners of the site have agreed to meet each other to discuss the potential for a joint development of the whole site.
“The council will meet again with the owners in the hope that a scheme will be brought forward.”