Fire chief blasts arsonists after weekend hotel blaze

Grand Hotel, Dorning Street
Grand Hotel, Dorning Street

A FIRE chief has blasted firebugs responsible for a blaze at a derelict Wigan pub.

And chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, Coun David Acton today urged parents to think about what their children are doing during the half-term break after detectives launched an investigation into Sunday’s fire at the long-unoccupied Grand Hotel on Dorning Street.

Firefighters reported seeing people escaping through a back window when they arrived at the old town centre building shortly after 3pm.

This resulted in extra engines being called for plus additional police officers and even paramedics, fearing others might be trapped inside.

The additional resources meant various stations across the region were depleted while officers attended the blaze.

One firefighter sustained a hand injury as he tried to enter the building.

Coun Acton today sent a warning about the dangers of such fires.

He said: “These kind of incidents put a huge burden on our shrinking resources. In this instance a total of six fire engines from two different services were needed to fight the fire. These resources could have been needed at a more serious incident elsewhere where someone’s life could have been in danger.

“I would urge people to think very carefully about the impact of starting a fire deliberately and I would ask parents to think about where their children are during the half-term holiday.”

A specialist unit from Leigh fire station attended alongside crews from Hindley, Atherton, Lancashire and Merseyside.

The nearby Anvil pub had to be evacuated after smoke spread into its cellar but it re-opened yesterday.

Firefighters said the fire was difficult to locate with the whole of the Grand Hotel heavily smoke logged and the building in a poor state with holes in the floor making conditions even more dangerous.

Wigan Council building control officers have since assessed the site but haven’t noted any concerns about potential structural issues.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “We were called to the Grand Hotel at around 3.25pm after reports of a fire in the basement that quickly spread.

“We haven’t made any arrests but we are looking for four teenage boys who we would like to question about the incident, which is being treated as arson.

“Two boys were seen running away and there were initial concerns that the other two were still inside but this turned out not to be the case. We had to close the road off while the fire was dealt with.”