The roads closed off, including Church Street, are expected to remain inaccessible well into Friday
Firefighters remain at the scene of a huge blaze in Preston city centre involving the former Odeon cinema and Evoque nightclub.
Road closures remain in place and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said this is expected to cause disruption to the city centre this morning (May 20). The fire has been brought under control however firefighting operations continue and people are being urged to avoid the area.
Twelve fire engines and two aerial ladder platforms were called to the scene of the devastating blaze in Church Street, close to Fishergate, at 6.43pm last night (May 19). Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles and surrounding roads were cordoned off with residents being advised to keep windows and doors shut.
Photos and videos taken at the scene show that the building suffered significant damage. No injuries have been reported and an area of the city centre remains closed for both road users and pedestrians.
A Lancashire Police spokesperson said: “We are currently assisting Lancashire Fire and Rescue with an on going fire in Preston Town Centre. Please see the map that shows the areas to avoid. Both for road users and pedestrians. Thank you for your patience during this time.”
It is the third serious city centre fire in one week and inflicted significant damage at the site of a once-popular cinema. Serious damage was also caused to the adjacent building, housing the former Evoque and Tokyo Jo’s, and it’s the second fire to hit the building in the last week after a smaller scale incident on Saturday (May 14) and a blaze at the former St Joseph’s Orphanage on Mount Street on Friday (May 13).
Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council, said: “The recent fires taking place in Preston City Centre are very disturbing suggesting a possible trend. It has been raised by senior members and officers with both fire and police services. We will continue supporting our emergency services to effectively deal with the matter.”
One witness said: “There’s smoke all over the place in Preston centre. It’s Odeon cinema that is on fire again. There is flying debris also on fire and it looks like other buildings are catching fire too.”
LFRS Incident Commander, Area Manager Neil Taylor reassured the public there was nothing “abnormal” about the smoke. In update issued via video on Twitter late on Thursday night, he said the fire was a “large incident” at a building measuring approximate 90m by 30m and while parts of the building are derelict, some parts are still in use as commercial premises.
The fire service response involved 12 fire engines from Preston, Bamber Bridge, Fulwood, Wesham, Leyland, South Shore, Blackpool, Great Harwood, Hyndburn, Penwortham and Tarleton, two aerial ladders platforms from Preston and Blackpool, the air support unit and a command support unit from Blackburn.
In an updated statement issued at 5.30am today, a spokesperson said: “Eight fire engines and one aerial ladder platform remain at this incident. The fire has been brought under control however firefighting operations continue.
“Road closures remain in place. This is expected to cause disruption to the city centre this morning, so please avoid the area.
“We are working with Lancashire Police, Preston City Council and other partners in a multi-agency response to the incident.” No arrests have been reported and the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
Traffic alert service Inrix reports: Church Street closed due to earlier building fire from Manchester Road to Avenham Street. There is also a closure on Avenham Street.”
‘Rogue drones’ hindered LFRS’s efforts to fight the blaze along with a separate wildfire incident in Darwen. On twitter, LFRS said: “We are assisting at two large incidents tonight, Darwen and Preston, On both occasions our drone has had to be grounded due to rogue drones flying at the scenes. DO NOT FLY AT EMERGENCY INCIDENTS. It means we can’t fly to assist our crews.”