Darwen mill wrecked in suspected arson attack

WRECKED: The aftermath of the factory blaze which needed 50 firefighters to bring it under control

WRECKED: The aftermath of the factory blaze which needed 50 firefighters to bring it under control

First published in Darwen Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

HOUSEHOLDERS had to be evacuated when 50 firefighters fought a blaze at a disused factory in Darwen last night.

Flames roared 20ft high above the roof of the boarded-up property in Equity Street following a suspected arson attack at around midnight.

Eight fire engines were called to the former pneumatics factory.

Residents, including a 23-year-old mother and her four-year-old daughter living next door to the property, were evacuated in case the fire spread to their homes.

The incident is the latest in a summer of arson attacks by youths, dubbed 'maniacs' by fire chiefs.

A Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “The fire started on the ground floor.

"It spread through to the first floor and broke through the roof and basically destroyed it.

"At that point the flames were probably 20ft above roof level.

“We are treating it as suspicious. It looks as if it's been ignited deliberately and investigations are ongoing.”

Barry and Patricia Ward watched the fire from the back window of their home on Rydal Avenue.

Mr Ward said: “It burst through the roof. You could feel the heat from here.”

Mrs Ward added: “People keep breaking into it. The door has been open since Friday, at least.”

Tony and Linda Walsh, of Rydal Avenue, said they launched a 186-signature petition 13 years ago to have the building converted or knocked down.

But councillors told them the owner had moved abroad and nothing could be done, despite the building lying empty for more than two decades.

Mr Walsh said: “It just got worse and worse. It's an eyesore. Kids were always breaking into it.

“There was a cannabis farm in there at one point and the police raided it.

“We're not surprised this has happened at all.”

Brian Charnock, 47, lives next to the young mum, Lauren McKay, and her daughter, Lexi, whose house in Stansfield Street abuts the factory.

He said: “I heard a bloke shouting 'get out, get out' and then a bang on my door. We were all evacuated.

“We were afraid it could get in the roof space. I was very concerned for her and her daughter.”

Joanna Irvine, 31, of Equity Street, said: “It's disgusting that it has to get to this for something to be done. How many complaints have they received?”

Incident Command Officer Steve Green said: “The building will have to come down now because it is unsafe.”

Comments (14)

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3:45pm Sun 12 Sep 10

dmmike says...

Er....
Just how many empty mills have burnt down in East Lancs this past couple of months?
Any more in Manchester/Liverpool
/West Yorks?
Is this a pattern?
Er.... Just how many empty mills have burnt down in East Lancs this past couple of months? Any more in Manchester/Liverpool /West Yorks? Is this a pattern? dmmike
  • Score: 0

6:46pm Sun 12 Sep 10

rob_ossy says...

dmmike wrote:
Er.... Just how many empty mills have burnt down in East Lancs this past couple of months? Any more in Manchester/Liverpool /West Yorks? Is this a pattern?
just thinking about that seems to be run of the mill theses days
[quote][p][bold]dmmike[/bold] wrote: Er.... Just how many empty mills have burnt down in East Lancs this past couple of months? Any more in Manchester/Liverpool /West Yorks? Is this a pattern?[/p][/quote]just thinking about that seems to be run of the mill theses days rob_ossy
  • Score: 0

6:52pm Sun 12 Sep 10

useyourhead says...

rob_ossy wrote:
dmmike wrote: Er.... Just how many empty mills have burnt down in East Lancs this past couple of months? Any more in Manchester/Liverpool /West Yorks? Is this a pattern?
just thinking about that seems to be run of the mill theses days
pmsl
[quote][p][bold]rob_ossy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]dmmike[/bold] wrote: Er.... Just how many empty mills have burnt down in East Lancs this past couple of months? Any more in Manchester/Liverpool /West Yorks? Is this a pattern?[/p][/quote]just thinking about that seems to be run of the mill theses days[/p][/quote]pmsl useyourhead
  • Score: 0

10:03am Mon 13 Sep 10

A Darener says...

After twenty years of neglect perhaps now the eyesore will be cleaned up. But setting fire to these neglected properties is not the way to do it. How long before somebody is seriously injured or killed?
After twenty years of neglect perhaps now the eyesore will be cleaned up. But setting fire to these neglected properties is not the way to do it. How long before somebody is seriously injured or killed? A Darener
  • Score: 0

11:43am Mon 13 Sep 10

Kaicho says...

My family was one of the one's evacuated. This was an accident/crime waiting to happen. I imagine most residents thought this but the local council and government were deaf to our complaints and appeals citing the same old arguments concerning land ownership issues and refusing to take over the site and knock it down. Shame on them that families had to be put at risk for their incompetence verging on outright negligence.

In the morning I managed to thank one of the fire fighters who helped save my home. This thanks I extend to every one involved. Their courage and professionalism were exemplary. I have nothing but praise to offer.
My family was one of the one's evacuated. This was an accident/crime waiting to happen. I imagine most residents thought this but the local council and government were deaf to our complaints and appeals citing the same old arguments concerning land ownership issues and refusing to take over the site and knock it down. Shame on them that families had to be put at risk for their incompetence verging on outright negligence. In the morning I managed to thank one of the fire fighters who helped save my home. This thanks I extend to every one involved. Their courage and professionalism were exemplary. I have nothing but praise to offer. Kaicho
  • Score: 0

2:39pm Mon 13 Sep 10

whereistedward says...

The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council.
The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council. whereistedward
  • Score: 0

9:18pm Mon 13 Sep 10

happycyclist says...

whereistedward wrote:
The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council.
Eh?

If the Council have the power to something about a health and safety hazard they should bloody well do something about it!
[quote][p][bold]whereistedward[/bold] wrote: The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council.[/p][/quote]Eh? If the Council have the power to something about a health and safety hazard they should bloody well do something about it! happycyclist
  • Score: 0

10:46pm Mon 13 Sep 10

Kaicho says...

whereistedward wrote:
The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council.
So you saying it was my responsibility to raise the funds to bring legal action against the gentleman in question who resides in the USA? What a stupid statement to make. It's the council's responsibility to make sure our homes and streets are safe and act when necessary. They didn't act throughout two decades. I'd love to see the look on your face, hear your thoughts in a similar situation. You never know, you might be unlucky and lose everything. Would you try to be so smug then?
[quote][p][bold]whereistedward[/bold] wrote: The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council.[/p][/quote]So you saying it was my responsibility to raise the funds to bring legal action against the gentleman in question who resides in the USA? What a stupid statement to make. It's the council's responsibility to make sure our homes and streets are safe and act when necessary. They didn't act throughout two decades. I'd love to see the look on your face, hear your thoughts in a similar situation. You never know, you might be unlucky and lose everything. Would you try to be so smug then? Kaicho
  • Score: 0

10:56pm Mon 13 Sep 10

whereistedward says...

happycyclist wrote:
whereistedward wrote: The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council.
Eh? If the Council have the power to something about a health and safety hazard they should bloody well do something about it!
There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of privately owned empty buildings in the Borough that are a potential danger - surely you cannot be serious in expecting the Council to purchase them all ? You must surely know that compulsory purchase is a very difficult, very costly and time consuming process (especially where the owner does not want to sell or is near impossible to contact). Where would the Council get the money from to purchase these buildings ???

However, having said that, the Govt should pass legislation making it 1) far easier for Councils to purchase empty properties and 2) to make this process far less bureaucratic and costly - and less time-consuming.

This would be very controversial though with many property owners dead against such a move.
[quote][p][bold]happycyclist[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]whereistedward[/bold] wrote: The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council.[/p][/quote]Eh? If the Council have the power to something about a health and safety hazard they should bloody well do something about it![/p][/quote]There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of privately owned empty buildings in the Borough that are a potential danger - surely you cannot be serious in expecting the Council to purchase them all ? You must surely know that compulsory purchase is a very difficult, very costly and time consuming process (especially where the owner does not want to sell or is near impossible to contact). Where would the Council get the money from to purchase these buildings ??? However, having said that, the Govt should pass legislation making it 1) far easier for Councils to purchase empty properties and 2) to make this process far less bureaucratic and costly - and less time-consuming. This would be very controversial though with many property owners dead against such a move. whereistedward
  • Score: 0

11:08pm Mon 13 Sep 10

whereistedward says...

Kaicho wrote:
whereistedward wrote: The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council.
So you saying it was my responsibility to raise the funds to bring legal action against the gentleman in question who resides in the USA? What a stupid statement to make. It's the council's responsibility to make sure our homes and streets are safe and act when necessary. They didn't act throughout two decades. I'd love to see the look on your face, hear your thoughts in a similar situation. You never know, you might be unlucky and lose everything. Would you try to be so smug then?
I have every sympathy with your plight - and that of the other residents. But what could the Council have done to force the owner to do something with this property ??? What could the Council have done to stop the arsonists (and potential murderers in my book) forcing their way into the building to set fire to it ?? The privately owned residential property next door to this building was empty for a long time (it's owned by a guy living in the south) - was the Council supposed to do something about this too ??

There are no powers other than cumpulsory purchase. I understand that the Council has contacted the owner (via his mother) on numerous occasions to secure the property. The Council can secure the property (and have done so) but then have to charge the owner - who does not pay as he's in the USA. The Council has (by law) to contact the owner first.

Councils cannot (unfortunately) just go around 'doing something' to private property unless a legal process is strictly followed.

All I'm trying to say is blame the arsonists and owner, not the Council ! Like I said, every sympathy to the residents.
[quote][p][bold]Kaicho[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]whereistedward[/bold] wrote: The building is owned by a guy living in the USA. He is the one to blame for neglecting this building for so long not the Council.[/p][/quote]So you saying it was my responsibility to raise the funds to bring legal action against the gentleman in question who resides in the USA? What a stupid statement to make. It's the council's responsibility to make sure our homes and streets are safe and act when necessary. They didn't act throughout two decades. I'd love to see the look on your face, hear your thoughts in a similar situation. You never know, you might be unlucky and lose everything. Would you try to be so smug then?[/p][/quote]I have every sympathy with your plight - and that of the other residents. But what could the Council have done to force the owner to do something with this property ??? What could the Council have done to stop the arsonists (and potential murderers in my book) forcing their way into the building to set fire to it ?? The privately owned residential property next door to this building was empty for a long time (it's owned by a guy living in the south) - was the Council supposed to do something about this too ?? There are no powers other than cumpulsory purchase. I understand that the Council has contacted the owner (via his mother) on numerous occasions to secure the property. The Council can secure the property (and have done so) but then have to charge the owner - who does not pay as he's in the USA. The Council has (by law) to contact the owner first. Councils cannot (unfortunately) just go around 'doing something' to private property unless a legal process is strictly followed. All I'm trying to say is blame the arsonists and owner, not the Council ! Like I said, every sympathy to the residents. whereistedward
  • Score: 0

11:31am Tue 14 Sep 10

masterdebater.co.uk says...

Well Dave, addressing a couple of your points above...
It wouldn't have mattered where the owner lived if the Acadamy had been intended to be built there, would it?
And maybe we could try policing the streets? Just an idea.
Well Dave, addressing a couple of your points above... It wouldn't have mattered where the owner lived if the Acadamy had been intended to be built there, would it? And maybe we could try policing the streets? Just an idea. masterdebater.co.uk
  • Score: 0

4:42pm Tue 14 Sep 10

penninelad says...

masterdebater.co.uk wrote:
Well Dave, addressing a couple of your points above... It wouldn't have mattered where the owner lived if the Acadamy had been intended to be built there, would it? And maybe we could try policing the streets? Just an idea.
masterdebater raises a red herring here.The Academy has absolutely nothing to do with it. The houses at Redearth & Queen St (I presume you are referring to the clearance areas) were demolished because of their condition. All the commercial premises in the area AGREED to be be bought out - and that took a heck of a long time and cost to HMR/Elevate. (not the Council). The owner of the property at Equity St is not interested in selling, nor does the Council have the money to go around buying up every empty commercial property.
[quote][p][bold]masterdebater.co.uk[/bold] wrote: Well Dave, addressing a couple of your points above... It wouldn't have mattered where the owner lived if the Acadamy had been intended to be built there, would it? And maybe we could try policing the streets? Just an idea.[/p][/quote]masterdebater raises a red herring here.The Academy has absolutely nothing to do with it. The houses at Redearth & Queen St (I presume you are referring to the clearance areas) were demolished because of their condition. All the commercial premises in the area AGREED to be be bought out - and that took a heck of a long time and cost to HMR/Elevate. (not the Council). The owner of the property at Equity St is not interested in selling, nor does the Council have the money to go around buying up every empty commercial property. penninelad
  • Score: 0

6:05pm Tue 14 Sep 10

masterdebater.co.uk says...

I think you missed my point, that if the council had an interest, they would have been more active.

As for the clearance area that's another rant for another thread. You will note though that the houses across the road are in suitable condition to warrant renovation rather than demolition.
I think you missed my point, that if the council had an interest, they would have been more active. As for the clearance area that's another rant for another thread. You will note though that the houses across the road are in suitable condition to warrant renovation rather than demolition. masterdebater.co.uk
  • Score: 0

12:04am Wed 15 Sep 10

whereistedward says...

I think you are referring to houses on Nancy St ? Nancy St is within the St Peter's Conservation Area. (which was set up before HMR). Houses within conservation areas can't normally be demolished. The Redearth area homes were not in the Conservation Area. Indeed Darwen Borough Council wanted to demolish these houses in Redearth in 1972 but did not have sufficient finances (Darwen Council demolished far more houses in Redearth than BwD Council).
Whether Nancy St should have been placed in a Conservation Area in the first place is another matter. But English Heritage recommended this at the time, thus the area eventually attracted HMR renewal money.
I think you are referring to houses on Nancy St ? Nancy St is within the St Peter's Conservation Area. (which was set up before HMR). Houses within conservation areas can't normally be demolished. The Redearth area homes were not in the Conservation Area. Indeed Darwen Borough Council wanted to demolish these houses in Redearth in 1972 but did not have sufficient finances (Darwen Council demolished far more houses in Redearth than BwD Council). Whether Nancy St should have been placed in a Conservation Area in the first place is another matter. But English Heritage recommended this at the time, thus the area eventually attracted HMR renewal money. whereistedward
  • Score: 0

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