AN investigation has been launched into the fire at a former pub in Brierfield yesterday. 

Firefighters were called to the Railway Tavern in Railway Street at around 6.40pm.

An eyewitness said there were several fire engines in the area tackling the blaze.

Flames could be seen coming from the empty building.

A police spokesman said officers attended to assist with traffic control as some roads needed to be closed.

Around 25 firefighters from Nelson, Padiham and Burnley battled with the blaze.

Watch manager Dave Robinson said: "We believe the fire was started deliberately.

"There was thick, black smoke coming out of the front and side windows of the first floor.

"We originally sent a team inside but as the flames became too powerful we pulled them out and continued to fight the fire from the outside.

"An aerial crew was used to put the fire out and any remainding hotspots.

"There was no one inside the building when we arrived.

"A couple of cars suffered light damage as tiles came off the roof.

"We are working with the police and an investigation is on going to find out the cause of the fire."

The police spokesman said: "We were called by the fire service at around 6.45pm to reports of a fire in a derelict pub.

"All roads were reopened by 9.30pm.

"We are now working with the fire service to investigate the cause of the fire."