A 23-year-old martial arts enthusiast has died of suspected poisoning believed to have been caused by a chemical used for killing rats.

Father-of-two Christopher Forkin of Edgeside, Waterfoot, is thought to have ingested strychnine hydrochloride, a lethal chemical which can be used as rat poison.

Paramedics were called to a house in Crabtree Avenue, Waterfoot, after they received a call saying he had a heart attack.

Police said he was taken by ambulance to Royal Blackburn Hospital where he died on Saturday evening.

Fire crews from the hazardous materials unit in Burnley also attended the scene as a precautionary measure in case the property needed to be decontaminated.

Mr Forkin had recently taken up martial arts training at Waterfoot-based Team Warriors Elite.

He had been due to take part in a Bacup fight night on Saturday April 14 at Bacup Hub in Burnley Road.

Organisers said the night will now be dedicated to him. A one-minute silence is to be held along with a slide show of photographs of him.

Head coach of Team Warriors Elite, Declan Williams said: “The whole club is distraught to hear that Chris has died. He had so much going for him. We can’t understand why this has happened.

“He always had a huge smile on his face whatever the situation. He was such a nice person and a pleasure to train, a very valuable member of the team.”

Bacup fight night organiser Danny Brelsford trained with Mr Forkin. He said: “I had been training with Chris during the daytime. He was honestly one of the nicest people I have ever met.

“He was known for his infectious smile and his positive carefree attitude. He will be greatly missed.”

Mr Forkin was a former pupil of Fearns Community Sports College, Stacksteads.

A spokesman for the school said: “We are very sorry to learn about the death of Christopher Forkin. He was a lovely young man who was very well liked.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

In a tribute on Facebook, Michaela Golden said: ”RIP Chris so sad, goodnight & sweet dreams. Our thoughts are with your family & loved ones right now.

You made a massive impact on everyone you met as you smiled your way through life. Xxxxxxxxxx Another from Ryan Noon read: “RIP Mate can't believe you're gone, only really known you since Christmas when you started training with us, there was never a dull moment with you there!”

A statement form Lancashire police said: “At this stage it is believed Mr Forkin may have ingested the chemical Strychnine Hydrochloride, although the matter has been referred to the East Lancashire Coroner who will hold a full inquest.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious and police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

“Police liaised closely with the ambulance service and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, who also attended the address, and there is no threat to wider public health resulting from the incident.”

The inquest into Mr Forkin’s death is due to be opened today.