A CLAMPDOWN has been launched after a dramatic rise in shisha dens in Blackburn.

In the past month, the fire service has served two prohibition notices at properties in Darwen Street after around 60 people were found smoking shisha pipes inside breaking safety rules.

And at the weekend a man was taken to hospital suffering from flash burns after an explosion allegedly involving a shisha pipe in the town centre.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has also confirmed it is investigating a number of premises on health and safety grounds to see if smoke free laws have been broken and illicit tobacco used.

And bosses at HM Revenue and Customs said their officers had been involved in a number of raids in the town seizing illegal tobacco being used in shisha dens.

A shisha pipe, also known as a hubble-bubble pipe, is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for smoking tobacco in which the smoke is cooled and filtered by passing through water.

The fire service said it had seen a significant rise in shisha dens in the town with a number of properties currently under investigation.

It will serve prohibition notices to immediately close down any properties where it believes people’s lives are being put at risk.

They can be served when a building is being used for commercial purposes but the owners are not following fire regulations, such as having adequate fire escapes and alarms.

Chris Caton, from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said lives were being put at risk.

He said the blast at Darwen Street cafe Bar B Base, which sent glass flying from window, was understood to have been caused by the explosion of a gas canister, which was being used to prepare a shisha pipe.

The incident at 8pm on Friday happened while the street was filled with revellers.

Mr Caton said: “At the fire in Darwen Street they were extremely lucky that only one person was injured and with the glass blowing out across the street it could have been much worse.

“The smoking regulations do not allow them to set up a public building for smoking.

“Our issue with this is that they are not commercial premises yet they have a large number of people going into them to smoke and there are no fire alarms or acceptable fire escapes.”

HM Revenue and Customs said large quantities of fruit and normal tobacco, which had no excise duty paid on it, had been seized in the raids on shisha dens in Blackburn.

A spokeswoman said: “I can confirm that HM Revenue and Customs have supported other local law enforcement agencies on a number of operations in Blackburn targeting tobacco goods.”

Ward councillor Muntazir Patel said: “I have complained before about a few places because I have seen many young people using them.

“I have received phonecalls from many concerned parents whose children are going out and using them at weekends and the evenings. Something needs to be done and I would back any investigations and a full ban on these places.”

When the smoking ban came into place the number of shisha cafe’s in the region reduced dramatically.

Chris Allen, head of public protection, said: "We are currently investigating a number of premises on health and safety grounds, to determine whether smoke free laws have been broken and if illicit tobacco has been used."

A Lancashire Constabulary spokesman said: “We are aware of the issues in relation to these premises and we will work closely with the council.”