AN arson investigation has been launched by police after fire ripped through a Ribble Valley barn.

Five fire engines including an aerial ladder, a specialist search and rescue team, and an aerial drone had to be used to extinguish the flames and damp down 20 tonnes of smouldering and smoking hay.

Now police believe the weekend fire had been started deliberately and have appealed for witnesses to help their inquiries.

Firefighters from Blackburn, Hyndburn and Preston were called to the barn on Fleet Street Lane at around 7.45am on Saturday.

The teams used the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s drone to look at the blaze from above.

A spokesman said: “No one was injured but there was considerable damage caused to the barn and hay inside.

“The cause of the fire is under investigation.

“Firefighters from the five crews from from Preston, Blackburn and Hyndburn had to remain in attendance all day.

“The fire has severely affected the roof and mezzanine flooring of the barn.”

Yesterday the police appealed for information about the fire saying they believed it had been started deliberately.

Investigating officers believe an offender entered the building through a side door and set fire to some old furniture before running away from the scene.

The fire spread from the side room into the main barn and to the upper wooden floor of the building, causing significant damage.

Detective Sergeant Bryony Midgley said: “Luckily nobody was hurt in this fire but it has caused significant damage to a farm outbuilding.

“We are currently treating it as suspicious and are appealing for anyone with information about it to get in touch with us.

“Maybe you were in the area at the time and saw something unusual, or maybe you’ve heard someone talking about it.

“Whatever information you have, please get in touch.”

Anyone with information about the fire should contact 101 quoting log number 606 of December 3.