A GROUP of youths were seen escaping through the back window of a burning derelict hotel.
Emergency services were called to the old Grand Hotel on Dorning Street earlier just after 3pm on Sunday and noticed that there were people inside.
As a result, extra crews were called for and the youngsters were seen escaping through a back window, leaving the firefighters to battle the blaze.
The building was heavily smoke logged and it took some time for the crews to find the fire once inside. One firefighter sustained injuries to his hand as he tried to gain entry to the hotel.
The nearby Anvil pub was evacuated after smoke poured into its cellar.
Hindley fire station crew manager Craig Cubbins led the operation.
He said: “Smoke was pumping out of the cellar and out of the chimney when we arrived.
“We saw signs of people in the building so that meant we had to increase our attendance.
“A number of youths were then seen making their exit through a back window. Police arrived and shut the road off.
“It took some time to locate the fire and there were holes in the floor so it was very dangerous for us – it could easily have ended in fatality.
“The whole building was smoke logged and smoke also got into the cellar of the Anvil.”
The fire was eventually brought under control and police are now investigating the incident.
The Anvil was set to remain closed throughout Sunday night before re-opening on Monday.
A specialist unit from Leigh was also in attendance as were crews from Atherton, Leigh, Lancashire and Merseyside with Wigan’s pumps at a tumble dryer fire in Standish.
The Grand hotel was once one of the prestige stays in the town centre and all manner of up and coming popstars, on-loan sportsmen and entertainers have checked in over the generations.
It was eventually sold on and was left to grind out a rather less glamorous living as a bed and breakfast emergency base for the homeless, and latterly, a hostel for young people with behavioural issues.