A HISTORIC Sunday School building in Burnley was damaged during a fire on Friday morning.

Police called in firefighters at 2.45am after they had seen smoke coming from the building, which dates back to 1845 and is believed to have been home to a former Sunday School.

The building adjoins the old Burnley Lane Baptist chapel.

Nearby houses on Hebrew Road at the back of the building were evacuated and there were road closures in place.

Caroline Harrison, station manager at Nelson, was the incident commander and believes the incident could have been so much worse.

She said: “We sent crews with breathing apparatus in to try to tackle the fire but it was discovered the building was in an unsafe condition and there were some signs of structural collapse inside.

“Those crews were removed for their safety and we dealt with the fire from the outside.

“We believe it was an old school building because of the sign on the outside but it was used for storage.

“One of the good things we did was stopping it spreading to the chapel building next to it, as there was a door connecting them.

“The chapel was filled with tyres and if they had caught fire we could have been talking about evacuating properties in a 200-metre radius due to toxic fumes and environmental concerns.

“The fire is out but we are dealing with the smouldering wood in the property.

“We are continuing to work with the police to try to establish the cause of the fire.”

The blaze was in a three-storey derelict building and it affected all floors of the building and roof.

Firefighters used an aerial ladder platform to attack the fire from the roof level.

Damian Sharples, 34, of Colne Road, praised firefighters for their quick response to prevent the blaze spreading.

He said: “I saw some blue lights when I looked out of the window and could see the property on fire. We have only been here for about a month and it does not really surprise me.

“There has been a few incidents at the back of the houses and also at the nearby school.

“I am just happy that the police and fire service managed to clear it.”

Cllr Shah Hussain, who represents the Daneshouse with Stoneyholme ward on Burnley Council, said: “It is very sad to see historic buildings like this being damaged.

"I want to praise firefighters for the job they did.”