A BOAT was destroyed after being engulfed by fire on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Emergency services were called at 6.10pm yesterday when a group of fishermen spotted the blaze, near the Whitebirk roundabout and The Range Garden Centre in Blackburn.

Plumes of thick, black smoke were seen pouring into the sky as the wooden boat burned close to trees and shrubbery on the embankment.

A fire service spokesman said the boat was derelict.

Nobody was found on board or injured. Pedestrians were told to stay back while fire-fighters tackled the blaze, which tore through the white vessel.

It began to sink after taking on too much water.

The fire is not believed to have been started inten-tionally on what was the first day of the summer holidays but the cause was unknown last night.

A police spokesman confirmed they had been called but said they would not investigate unless later asked to by the fire service.

He said: “We were called at 6.15pm to a boat on fire at the canal next to The Range Garden Centre.

“The fire service informed us the fire was out but the boat was sinking. We do not believe it to be suspicious at this stage.”