A huge blaze has ripped through a historic building in Nelson causing it to partially collapse.
The fire at the former Spiritualist Church building next to Unity Hall Wellbeing Centre in Vernon Street started just after midnight today.
The blaze was so ferocious that six fire engines from Nelson, Burnley and Colne were at the scene.
Coun. Zafar Ali, chairman of Nelson Town Council, which owns Unity Hall, described the destruction of the iconic building as a 'sad loss for Nelson'.
He said: "We woke up to sad news this morning. The town council was actually speaking to the agent for the building just two weeks ago with a view to buying it and extending our Unity Wellbeing project.
"Both iconic buildings were built in 1907 and we wanted to preserve this Nelson heritage for the future. Sadly, this no longer looks possible."
Early Suffragist Selina Cooper had helped to lay the foundation stones for the buildings which served as the second assembly hall for the independent Labour party in Nelson at the turn of the last century.
A fire service spokesman said: "Three jet were in use. However the fire quickly spread to the rest of the building which resulted in a partial building collapse. For the safety of the public Vernon Street was closed. The air support unit was deployed to gain better aerial footage of the incident."
The roof of the building collapsed around 1am. By 3-25am the incident was scaled back and the water town appliance was in attendance from Blackburn Fire Station.
At 6-20am two jets, lighting and breaking in tools were in use. By 7-20am firefighters were damping down and the incident was scaled back to one pump at 8am.