Hall blaze is still puzzling investigators

A raging fire ripped through the building.
A raging fire ripped through the building.

The cause of a ferocious blaze which ripped through historic Alston Hall is still a mystery two weeks on.

Fire investigators have still to complete a full examination of the Grade II Listed building near Longridge after being delayed getting access because parts of it were deemed dangerous.

“All we can say at this stage is it is still under investigation,” said a brigade spokesman. “It is not unusual in the case of a major fire for there to be a protracted investigation.”

The blaze broke out at around 10.30pm on March 15 and at its height 10 fire engines, two aerial ladder platforms and a mobile control centre were at the scene as 75 firefighters battled to prevent the flames engulfing the entire building.

The alarm was raised by two astronomers who were using the University of Central Lancashire observatory nearby to watch the planet Jupiter.

One said later he saw two or three people emerge from outbuildings at the hall with fire extinguishers trying to fight the blaze before the fire brigade arrived.

Crews stayed at the hall all throughout the night and following day in case pockets of fire in some inaccessible parts of the building re-ignited.

Police and fire officers met 24 hours after the blaze to assess the cause, but no verdict could be reached because parts of the building, including chimney stacks and a gable wall, were considered to be at risk of collapse. Enquiries have continued since, but no conclusions have so far been reached.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “It is not 100 per cent clear what started the fire. There is no reason from our point of view to suggest any criminality at this stage.

“But once the fire service have completed their investigations, if there is anything deemed to be suspicious, we will look into it.”