The Griffin Hotel on Standishgate, at one time a hospitality magnet which for a period was managed by rugby legend Billy Boston, has stood empty for several years and has become a haven for rough sleepers and drug-takers.
And shortly before 3.55pm on Thursday May 19, a crew from Wigan fire station was called there after receiving reports that the historic building was ablaze.
Fires had broken out in four different parts of the premises – on the staircase and in two bedrooms on the first floor – immediately leading the firefighters to conclude that they had been started deliberately.
Four crew members in breathing gear and armed with a hose tackled the flames and it would be more than two hours before they could be sure the fire was completely out.
Watch manager Shaun Aspey said: “With four seats of fire there is little doubt that deliberate ignition was involved and so we have contacted the police.
"It’s a shame this is happening to what is a nice architectural building.
"The ground floor is still looking in pretty good shape but it is obvious there have been rough sleepers there and there is a lot of drugs paraphernalia lying around.
"The back door was open and two windows were vulnerable so we boarded them up and made the place as secure as we could before we left.”
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to ring the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.