A PLEA has been issued to firebugs to steer clear of arson-ravaged mills in East Lancashire - before a member of the emergency services or an intruder is seriously hurt.

Repeated blazes have been reported at the former Fort Vale Mill, in Clover Hill Road, Nelson, according to county firefighters.

And another arson attack has been tackled at Albert Mill, in Market Street, Whitworth — the second fire there in a fortnight.

The incidents have prompted fire chiefs to make an appeal to steer clear of derelict buildings.

Acting crew manager Lee Garnett, of Nelson fire station said of the Clover Hill Road blaze, said: “This was the latest in a number of call-outs that the service has had to deal with on the site in recent weeks.

“For this reason the fire service in conjunction with the police have been working in the area in a bid to reduce the number of nuisance calls.”

Firefighter Chris Farrow broke his back while answering an emergency call at Albert Mill in May 2009 — though fortunately he was able to return to full-time duties after a period of rehabilitation.

His colleagues in Bacup and Rawtenstall are concerned, with the dangerous state of the derelict building, that another casualty may be on the horizon.

Three crews from the two Rossendale stations were alerted to the latest blaze, at around 7.40pm on Tuesday, with four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus sent into the crumbling structure. Thermal imaging cameras and hosereels were used to contain a small fire, which is believed to have been set deliberately.

Watch manager Chris Howarth said: “We are urging members of the public to keep out of Albert Mill as it is in a very poor state of repair and poses risks to anyone who enters, including the emergency services."

Mr Howarth said that the incident involving his colleague could happen again — and he is concerned that crews may be 'tied up' tackling such nuisance fires when they could be delayed in attending a genuine emergency.

Earlier this year proposals for 49 apartments were approved by planners for the Albert Mill site.

  • Plans have also been lodged with the borough council for extra security fencing, by the owners of the former Stanley Mill, in Shackleton Street, Burnley, after a number of reported lead thefts at the premises.