A fire which ripped through a row of terraced shops in Walkden town centre has caved in the roofs of at least two properties leaving them exposed to the elements, pictures from the scene show.
Around 30 firefighters, ambulances and police were called to Bolton Road in Walkden last night, Tuesday 1 September.
Falling debris from the burning buildings was scattered across the pavement after the fire broke out at around 10pm, but it’s believed the fire could have been smouldering up to three hours earlier.
Shoppers reported smelling smoke in the local area at around 7pm, before flames erupted from the roofline of the commercial properties.
It spread quickly to at least four other neighbouring properties, and pictures show how windows were smashed by the heat of the fire.
Greater Manchester Fire investigators arrived at the scene this afternoon, Wednesday 2 September, in an effort to piece together how the blaze started.
The shops are not thought to have been occupied at the time, and luckily no-one was injured.
Firefighters used three water jets to douse the flames some 50ft above street level, and after around an hour managed to contain the fire to one property.
Greater Manchester Police closed off Manchester Road at the junction with Bolton Road and traffic was being turned around.
The road closures carried on into the Wednesday morning rush hour, but have since re-opened.
A contraflow is in place on one lane while the fire investigation continues.
Crews remained at the scene overnight to damp down the brickwork and roofs, to make sure the fire could not re-ignite.
All shops on the row remain closed and are not expected to re-open until this weekend.
The amount of water pumped into each building will mean their structural integrity needs to be ascertained before business owners and workers can re-enter the properties.
Businesses along the row which took fire and water damage include the Clip Joint hairdressing salon, IT sales firm PC Concepts, the Number 11 cafe, The Deli cafe and takeaway, Pachino’s pizza parlour and to a lesser extent the Mainline taxi office.
PC Concepts, The Deli, and the Clip Joint are thought to be the worst affected with smashed windows and burned out roof joists.
The terraced row is one of the oldest in Walkden and is believed to have been built in around 1889.
The row of shops, on the north side of Barclays Bank, are still cordoned off to the public today.
The service indicated the fire could have been sparked in the roof space of either PC Concepts or The Deli, but the investigation is at an early stage and nothing has yet been confirmed.
Councillor Richard Critchley, who represents Walkden, said: “For the businesses affected this will be a massive blow. I truly hope that that they can rebuild and get back on their feet soon.
“As always, the emergency services did an excellent job and so I would like to thank them for their incredible efforts and work to contain this fire and secure the area.”
Pictures by Gary McDonnell/Al Williams/Louarna Hinson