Po­lice ar­rest teenager over huge fire at old of­fice build­ing

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ

A13-YEAR-OLD boy was ar­rested af­ter a huge fire roared in Skelmers­dale and de­stroyed a for­mer of­fice build­ing.

The huge fire dev­as­tated the dis­used Co-op­er­a­tive Bank build­ing at High Street and West­gate with flames seen across West Lancashire and be­yond.

Roads were closed and res­i­dents and on­look­ers or­dered to head in­side and close win­dows and doors as the as­bestos-filled build­ing was gut­ted by the blaze on Tues­day night.

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing, the true scale of the dam­age was re­vealed with lit­tle but a bat­tered and bent frame left where the of­fices once stood proud. The build­ing has been empty for sev­eral years but is the sub­ject of a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion which would see it de­mol­ished to make way for an Aldi su­per­mar­ket.

That ap­pli­ca­tion is yet to be de­cided by West Lancashire Bor­ough Coun­cil but faces op­po­si­tion from the Con­course Shop­ping Cen­tre own­ers as well as Lidl and St Mod­wens who are work­ing to­gether on plans to cre­ate the new town cen­tre.

The Co-op­er­a­tive Group, which is run separately to the bank busi­ness which plans to sell the land to Aldi, has also ob­jected due to the close prox­im­ity of the planned store to its own shop.

Fire­fight­ers re­mained at the scene through the night and the fol­low­ing morn­ing damp­ing down the re­main­der of the fire and car­ry­ing out in­ves­ti­ga­tions as part of joint en­quiries with Lancashire Con­stab­u­lary.

Po­lice say that ar­son­ists en­tered the build­ing to start the fire be­fore run­ning away, while a spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice said that the sig­nif­i­cant dam­age had al­ready oc­curred be­fore crews could ar­rive.

Last night, a 13-year-old boy was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of start­ing the blaze and the teenager re­mains in cus­tody to­day.

A po­lice spokesman said: “We were called at around 7.50pm on Tues­day to re­ports of a fire at an aban­doned build­ing on West­gate, Skelmers­dale.

“We at­tended and found of­fend­ers had en­tered the build­ing and set it alight be­fore mak­ing off.

“A short time later we ar­rested a 13-year-old boy from Skelmers­dale on sus­pi­cion of crim­i­nal dam­age – ar­son not en­dan­ger­ing life. He re­mains in cus­tody.

“Our en­quiries are very much on­go­ing and any­body with in­for­ma­tion is asked to get in touch on 101, quot­ing log num­ber 1307 of Septem­ber 15.”

An LFRS spokesman said: “We were called at 7.42pm, ini­tially sent four en­gines and then it quickly went up to eight

“Crews came from Greater Manch­ester, Lancashire and Mersey­side.

“It was a derelict build­ing and it was spread through­out the large build­ing.”

Colin Lane

The huge blaze at the dis­used Co-op­er­a­tive Bank build­ing at High Street and West­gate in Skelmers­dale

Colin Lane

A fire­fighter tack­les the huge blaze

Colin Lane/ An­drew Tee­bay

Fire fight­ers at the scene and (right) Carnegie Road cor­doned off

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