A BACUP mill ravaged by fire yesterday has been described as a "timebomb waiting to explode."

Residents and local businesses have been calling for Waterside Mill, off Burnley Road, to be demolished since it became empty.

Ronnie Barker, managing director of E Sutton and Sons Group, said he had been warning about the mill for some time.

The mill has been derelict for around eight years, inviting squatters and youths to break into the four-storey building.

Water damage was caused to Alan's Motors next door when firefighters extinguished the blaze.

The E Sutton group, footwear manufacturers, which also own Alan's Motors, was today waiting to find out the extent of the damage from insurance assessors.

The footwear company started out at the Waterside Mill in the late 70s before expanding and moving to its present site in Newchurch Road.

Ronnie Barker said he had been calling for the building to be demolished for years.

"We have been waiting for something serious to happen. The building needs to be pulled down but because it's a Grade 2 listed building the authority won't pull it down because of it's historical importance.

"In my mind the mill is a health and safety hazard and that's what should be important."

Planners said an application to change the mill into 16 self contained flats were given the go-ahead in 2000.