A MAIN road in Colne was closed this morning as 60 firefighters tackle a large blaze at an industrial unit.

A blaze broke out around 3.30am inside an industrial unit on Burnley Road, Colne.

The fire is believed to be accidental, as there was no sign of a break-in, but crews are still investigating how it started.

Incident commander Steve Kennedy said the seat of the fire was in a lock-up belonging to Easy Store 4U after initial reports that it had started next door at C and S Coaches.

Scene of the fire

He said that vehicles, including two Ferraris, had been wrecked, as well as fabrics and other items.

Mr Kennedy said: “There were 60-70 firefighters from 12 crews including two aerial ladder platforms tackling the fire at its height.

“The flames were 15-20ft in the air, but a straight thick black plume of smoke could be seen right across East Lancashire because it was such a still morning.

“That actually helped as it stopped the smoke drifting across residential streets and we didn't need to evacuate anyone.

“At this stage we believe it to be accidental, but we cannot say at the moment exactly how the fire has started.”

By 7am, the flames were out and white clouds of steam were rising from the embers.

Crews were pumping water on to the fire from nearby Colne Water, while managing the run off to lessen the environmental impact on the river.

Eye-witnesses compared the fire to one at neighbouring C and S Coaches in November 2009, where nearby residents were evacuated over fears of a potential gas explosion.

Paul Morris, 40, of Burnley Road, Colne said: “I was woken up by the arrival of the fire engines.

“I half thought we would all be evacuated again like we were when the building next to it caught fire.

"As soon as my daughter heard she was on the phone checking I was OK, but I knew the firefighters would sort it.”

Philip Leeds, managing director of nearby firm Lanlee said: “I was working late and heard this crackling.

"At first I thought it was the rain. When I went to see the fire brigade had just arrived.

“There were huge plumes of thick black smoke covering the sky.”

Andrew Montgomery, 51, owns nearby Montgomery Signs, which backs on to EasiStore4u, said: “I got a call from the police at 4am telling me I needed to come down as the building was on fire.

“As soon as I left my house I could see the flames. I was really worried my business would be badly affected but thankfully the fire was contained.”

Nearby Primet High School opened but pupils were being escorted on foot to the school gates by the police because of the road closure.

Head teacher Janet Walsh said: “There was a small amount of disruption first thing, but by and large everybody got to school on time or just a little but late.”

The main road through Colne was reopened at 11am.

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