A FIRE in a 'beautiful' derelict East Lancashire church was started by youths.

Two crews from Bacup and Rawtenstall were called to the blaze on the former Millgate Chapel on Newchurch Road  at 10pm last night.

Four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and using two hose reels battled the fire and extinguished the flames in building which was also a former office.

Smoke which had filled the building was removed using a ventilation unit.

Crews were in attendance for approximately 90 minutes.

Watch manager Chris Howarth from Bacup Fire Station said: "This is a beautiful building and would be a great shame to lose it to fire. 

"It was called Millgate Chapel but was used as an office building for a company."

Fire officials are warning people not to go into empty buildings.

Mr Howarth added: "The fire service would urge people not to enter the church.

"The conditions within the building are treacherous with missing hand rails on the stairs and dangerous floors and stair treads throughout the building.

"Setting deliberate fires ties up valuable fire service resources and should a life threatening incident take place at the same time, fires like this puts lives at risk."