Probe into fifth arson at block of borough flats

The flats on Bag Lane in Atherton
The flats on Bag Lane in Atherton

An investigation is underway after a fifth arson attack on a block of flats in the borough.

Three people were forced out of their properties following another deliberate fire at a property in Bag Lane, Atherton, at around 9.30pm last night.

And firefighters ensured a fourth resident, said to have been trapped by rising smoke, was safe.

Watch manager Lewis Cross said that crews from Atherton, Hindley and Leigh fire stations were alerted to the incident, amid fears that one of the occupiers, in one of the second floor flats, could not get out.

This was due to smoke coming from a fire, which had been apparently set in communal areas, between the flats, and was affecting the first and second floors.

Mr Cross added: “We extinguished the fire using two breathing apparatus and a hosereel.

“Three people had self-rescued, prior to our arrival. One person, who was upstairs, was safe within their flat.

“We believe that the fire had been deliberately set and this is the fifth time we have been to this property since July.”

A joint inquiry is understood to be underway between Greater Manchester’s police and fire services.

Firefighters remained at the scene, including an investigation officer, until just after 11.20pm.

Mr Cross said the damage was mainly restricted to the communal areas, though a window had to be smashed as part of the firefighting operation.

Some of the other damage to the property could have been as the result of previous fires there.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman confirmed that the origin of the fire was being treated as suspicious and that enquiries were still ongoing.

Coun Stuart Gerrard, the Independent councillor for Atherton ward, said: “We do have problems with pockets of anti-social behaviour across the town but this is the first time I’ve heard this mentioned, regarding Bag Lane. It is certainly something we need to be cracking down on.”

Potential witnesses to the incident can call the police non-emergency number, 101, or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.