WORK to demolish a house gutted by fire in the early hours of yesterday morning is set to start within the 48 hours.

Five fire engines, including an aerial platform, were called to the semi-derelict property in Rossendale just after midnight.

The crew spent four hours fighting the blaze at the empty detached home in Ashworth Street, Waterfoot, near the site of the former Gordon Works.

The high-level platform was needed because of the unstable back wall which after safety assessment will now need knocking down urgently.

Andrew Love, owner of Rawtenstall firm I Love Building Ltd, said: "The building, especially the back wall, is unstable so will need to be demolished early this week.

"We were due to start taking it down on Wednesday and had out scaffolding up round it but after the fire will will have bring it forward.

"It clearly needs to be knocked down quickly now for safety reasons."

Whitewell ward councillor Amanda Roberston said: "This property has been derelict for some years after a crack appeared in the back wall.

"I am glad it is finally coming down as it wasn't going to get any better even if it is sad that a fire had to take place to achieve this.

"I am glad no-one was injured an no surrounding properties were affected."

Crew manager Steve Horrocks from Hyndburn fire station said: "Four appliances from our station, Rawtenstall and Bacup were called just after midnight on Sunday to the fire in a vacant, semi-derelict house.

"It was a problematic fire because the rear wall looked in danger of coming down so we had to call in the aerial platform from Hyndburn fire station.

"Even with this it was am extremely difficult fire with 22 firefighters there for more than four hours.

"The property is next to the site a former mill building now demolished.

"The building was pretty well destroyed by the fire."

On Sunday morning a crew from Burnley fire station, building experts and police visited the site to assess the damage to the property.

Inspector Martyn Holt of Lancashire Police said yesterday morning: "The building was badly damaged.

"We are at the scene with fire crew examining the situation and investigating the cause.

"It is too early to say what started the fire."