Mill fire ignites old concerns

Inside the smouldering building
Inside the smouldering building

AN urgent call for “real action” is needed to ease safety concerns with an abandoned Wigan college building set ablaze this week.

More than 40 firefighters worked through the night on Thursday at the Pagefield Campus building close to Mesnes Park.

An investigation has been launched to establish the cause of the fire and nearby residents had been asked to close windows and doors due to smoke.

Some households were hit with a loss of water pressure as the fire crews’ efforts extended through the night.

The abandoned mill building has been the scene of several outbreaks of anti-social behaviour in recent years.

And borough fire manager Steve Sheridan had last year issued a safety plea about a spate of nuisance fires in the multi-storey building.

Mr Sheridan said: “Due to the fire being in the roof space and the building being derelict, the blaze was difficult to locate and firefighters initially couldn’t get into the building so we had to get water onto the fire from above using the aerial platforms.”

Ward councillor George Davies said Thursday’s fire should be the “last straw”.

He said: “I’m working alongside our council officers to see what can be done.

“The owner needs to be contacted - there are a lot of residents who are worried about what is happening there, if it means it needs to be knocked down then so be it.

“A warning needs to go out to the people responsible for these fires.

“Our firefighters and other emergency workers are having to put their safety at risk, it has happened too many times.

“Real action has to be taken now.”

Roads around the site had been closed with thick smoke visible from miles around following the blaze.

Firefighters were still dealing with the aftermath through yesterday morning.

The Pagefield site, formerly Rylands Mill, is subject to a dispersal order meaning no groups of two or more are allowed on site.