Firefighters tackle shopping arcade blaze

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The Independent Online

Firefighters are battling a "major" blaze which broke out in a shopping arcade, police said today.

The fire started on the ground floor of a commercial area opposite Blackpool's north pier and has now spread to the roof, a Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said.

Fifteen fire engines were being used to tackle the flames, he said.

Seven people were evacuated from the area but there are no reports of casualties.

Describing it as a "major fire", a Lancashire police spokesman said the whole of the Talbot Square area of the seaside town was ablaze.

The Fire and Rescue Service were called at 3.16am to the arcade, which is located within a triangle of three streets packed with bars and restaurants.

Around 90 staff from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service were at the scene along with three aerial ladder platforms and a high volume pump.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman Kathy Stacey said: "It's a very, very big fire for us in terms of its size and intensity. It's very rare that we would have a fire involving that number of pumps.

"We don't think there was anybody inside but as a precaution the Blackpool emergency planning team from the council evacuated seven people, including a young baby."

Ms Stacey said the fire broke out on Clifton Street, just off Talbot Square.

The terraced arcade includes the well known Yates's wine lodge and a number of retail premises.

"At the moment we're trying to put the fire out from outside the building. It's surrounded on three sides to get it out.

"At this stage it's too early to say what the cause is."

She added: "Thankfully nobody was in the buildings and we're not looking at a lot of casualties. Had this been a terrace of homes it would be a different story, but it's obviously very sad for those business owners and the people who own those properties."