RESIDENTS have spoken of their shock after a historic mansion was gutted in a huge early morning fire.

Flames engulfed the Grade II listed Horncliffe mansion in Bury Road, near Rawtentall, at around 1.45am today.

Firefighters have tackled the fire at the Victorian building throughout the day. 

LIVE UPDATES: Huge fire rips through Horncliffe Mansion, Bury Road, Rawtenstall

Lancashire Telegraph:

A spokesman for the fire service said: “The fire started at 1.45am. 

"Six fire engines were called, including units from Lancashire and Greater Manchester as it is on the border, as well as the aerial ladder platform (ALP).

“When they arrived the building was well alight.

”There were concerns that there could potentially be people in the building but we don’t believe that’s true.

”The fire had to be sectorised so it could be tackled from all sides.”

The fire has led to the closure of Bury Road from the Whitchaff pub to the junction of Crow Wood Road at Edenfield.

A number of bus services have also had to be redirected due to the incident.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown and an investigation will take place. 

Lancashire Telegraph:

Residents described the fire at the mansion as a 'tragedy and real shame'. 

One Edenfield resident said: "The fire happened in the middle of the night and I saw smoke from across the valley.

"It's a tragedy what has happened to such a historic building. Nothing has been done with it for so long and just when it looked like it might be sold, this has happened.

"It's a real shame."

Lancashire Telegraph:

Another resident added: "It's awful what has happened.

"The building used to be a care home for a long time.

"It's been vandalised a lot since then and it's really shocking to see what's happened now."

Originally built in 1869 by famous mill owner Henry Hardman, the iconic building was previously home to a hotel, wedding venue and care home.

There are more than 20 rooms and more than three and a half acres of land.

However, the house had been vacant since 2009, after which it fell into an extensive state of disrepair.

It was the subject of paranormal investigators and “urban explorers” who nicknamed the property Jag Mansion due to a large number of vintage Jaguar cars found in the grounds.