Blaze at Barnoldswick Mill under investigation

Fire tore through Fernbank Mill in Barnoldswick last night. G230811/4b
Fire tore through Fernbank Mill in Barnoldswick last night. G230811/4b

DOZENS of firefighters tackled a dangerous blaze at a derelict Barnoldswick mill where 5000 litres of fuel were stored.

Crews were called to Fernbank Mill, which is being demolished, just before 10 p.m. on Monday to find a number of fires around the leaking oil tank.

Six fire engines, as well as a foam unit and hazardous materials unit were sent to the site at the end of Fernbank Avenue to make sure the tank itself did not ignite.

Watch manager Mick Strickland said: “It was a very risky situation with all that fuel.

“Luckily, the wind direction was right for us not to have to evacuate any houses but as you can imagine there was a lot of thick black smoke.”

John Taylor from Lancashire Fire and Rescue explained: “The tank containing 5000 litres of oil used to heat the building when it was in use was not on fire but was in danger of igniting from a fire in the vicinity of it.

“An added complication was that the oil tank was leaking. The action of firefighters was to extinguish the fire and play cooling jets of water on the tank to prevent the oil inside from setting on fire.

“Additionally, the leak from the tank had to be stopped up. With the fire out and the risk of the oil in the tank igniting removed, an oil tanker provided by a private contractor was driven on site and the oil from the tank was pumped into the tanker and taken off site.”

Resident Barry Norcross of Fernbank Avenue said he was shutting his gate around 10 p.m. when he noticed smoke in the air and called the site manager.

He said: “Ten minutes later the flames were about 50 feet high. We then had about eight fire engines down here. By the time I went back in at around 1-30 a.m. the flames were out and they were cooling the tank.

“Some people thought it was some work being done but I knew straight away it wasn’t right because they hadn’t been burning anything that day.”

Liam Garbutt who was visiting a house on Fernbank Avenue said his family had come out into the street around 10-30 p.m. to see neighbours gathered.

“We were worried when we heard there was so much fuel around the fire. We didn’t want to be evacuated at that time of night with three kids with us. The flames were fairly high but luckily the smoke was blowing the other way.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.