FARINGTON Lodges has been closed as a safety precaution after thousands of dead fish were found in the water.

The Environment Agency has been at the site in Lodge Lane, Farington, since Saturday afternoon and is using aeration units to raise the oxygen levels in the water.

The lodges are close to Whitfire Ltd, a wood shavings and sawdust supplier, whose premises were seriously damaged in a fire earlier in the week.

The site is owned by South Ribble Borough Council, and Withnell Angling Club holds the licence to use the lodges for fishing.

Local residents and members of the angling club joined forces and waded into the lodges to remove dead fish from the water and transfer those that were still alive, approximately 200, including bream, roach and carp, to the smaller lodger, which was unaffected.

On Monday there were six aeration units still running, although these are likely to be removed tonight.

Councillor Peter Mullineaux, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and street scene, said: "Everyone is working very hard to return the lodges back to normal, but in the meantime the Environment Agency has advised that we close the site to the public and it’s likely to remain closed for the next few days.

"Once people heard what had happened the local community and the angling club worked together to clear the water and rescue any live fish, but I understand that the number of fish lost runs into thousands.”

A spokesman from the Environment Agency said it could take some time for the water to reach normal oxygen levels.

At lunchtime on Monday levels had risen to 15 per cent.

He said: “Fish begin to show distress at about 35 per cent and can been seen gasping for air at the surface.

“There are two situations that can cause oxygen levels to drop. One is algal bloom and the other is the presence of chemicals in the water. At this stage we are still investigating.”

As well as closing the site, South Ribble Council is asking dog walkers to keep their animals on a lead because the lodge waters could pose a health risk.