POLICE are appealing for information following the fire at a takeaway in Burnley last night.
Fire crews were called the Chicken Hut in Briercliffe Road at 10-45pm after yob had poured petrol on the counter and set it alight.
A criminal investigation is underway and Insp. Jim Elston said: “Such was the size and heat of the flames that the staff had to leave the premises by the rear door.
“The fire was extinguished by Lancashire Fire and Rescue but significant fire damage has been caused, although fortunately nobody was injured and the structure of the building has not been compromised.
“This is an extremely serious incident which could have had tragic consequences and I am determined to bring those responsible to justice.
“At this stage we are focusing our enquiries on house to house enquiries and CCTV evidence.”
Police are investigating the possibility that the fire could be linked to an incident around 8-45pm when staff were threatened and abused by a group of youths.
They are described as being white, male and aged from 12 to around 25. Two youths in particular were seen to be on bikes.
Insp. Elston continued: “I am also appealing for a male who approached the owner shortly after the fire to offer sympathy. I believe he may have information that could assist with our investigation and I urge him to come forward.
“This is cowardly and stupid act which could have caused the loss of life and I urge anyone with information as to the identity of youths or who may have any information about this event to contact Lancashire Police on 101.”
People with information can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org.