Van full of mattresses and white goods torched in fire outside Wigan community centre

Fire service
Fire service

A van which was crammed with mattresses and electrical appliances was destroyed in a fire outside a Wigan community centre.

Fire services were called to the address on Delegarte Street in Ince at around 10pm on Thursday.

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The vehicle contained around 40 mattresses, fridges, freezers and microwaves, all of which were wrecked either by the flames or by smoke and water.

It is understood the items were due to be distributed in a relief effort by a grass-roots group based at the community centre.

Crews wearing breathing apparatus had to climb into the back of the van and tackle the fire in a small space full of acrid smoke.

The firefighters then had to unload all the burned and damaged contents and lay it out on the pavement.

Watch manager Gareth Gray from Wigan fire station said: "The van was jam packed. We had to take everything out and pile it up.

"The smoke coming off the fridges and freezers was very toxic."

Mark Anderson, watch manager at Hindley fire station, added: "This is a tragic set of circumstances when you think about it. It looks like the items were part of a relief effort and they have all been destroyed so needlessly."

Firefighters said the blaze broke out in the cab of the van and then quickly spread to the rest of the vehicle, which was a total write-off.

The owner of the community centre attended the incident.

Wigan Council has also been informed so the wrecked items can be removed and the incident has been reported to Greater Manchester Police as the circumstances are thought to be suspicious.

Firefighters were at the scene for more than an hour.