FAMILIES spoke of their terror after a fire broke out, following a suspected arson attack.

Ten properties were evacuated during the blaze at a terraced house in Leeds Road, Nelson, just after midnight on Friday.

The fire service said an investigation is ongoing into the cause but it is believed it could have been deliberate.

Police said Leeds Road had to be closed for several hours as firefighters battled the blaze.

Residents said the fire was ‘terrifying’ as they were forced to leave their homes for several hours.

Peter Mullen, 89, who has lived on the road for more than 40 years, received a phone call in the middle of the night telling him about the fire.

Mr Mullen, who lives with his 87-year-old wife, said: “We got woken up just after midnight. I thought I could smell smoke. It was all action. The road was blocked off about 70 or 80 yards up the street.

“We were able to get back into our house at about 2.15am. One of our neighbours took us in and let us keep warm there.”

Residents said the fire started in a flat above an empty building which is due to open as an estate agents.

Another Leeds Road resident said: “It was terrible, it was very frightening to see.

“The police and fire service were fantastic."

The window of Pendle Hair Centre barbers on the road had to be smashed as searches were carried out to make sure nobody was inside.

A fire service spokesman said: “Fire was breaking out of the roof at the end of the terrace when firefighters arrived. A row of 10 terraces were evacuated to get them away from the smoke. There are signs it may be deliberate but the investigation is still ongoing.”

A police spokesman said: “Our investigations are ongoing into the blaze.”
Nobody was injured in the fire.