Gutted! Arson attack blaze rips through historic house

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ONE of the areas most historic houses has gone up in flames in an arson attack the second in two weeks.

The 400-year-old Holme at Cliviger a Grade II listed building was left badly damaged and blackened by the latest blaze which caused the collapse of a large part of the roof of the Elizabethan mansion.

Forensics officers have been carrying out a detailed examination and police and Fire and Rescue Service experts are meeting tomorrow as part of the investigation.

The alarm was raised shortly after 4 a.m. on Friday.

When we got there flames were coming through the roof, said Station Officer Steve Cope. The gas and electric were disconnected and there was no legitimate reason for anyone to be on the premises.

There is a history of an arson attack a couple of weeks ago and I have no doubt it has been fired deliberately, he said.

Five fire engines two from Burnley, two from Padiham and one from Nelson raced to the scene, with the aerial ladder platform and the Incident Support Unit from Accrington.

At the height of the blaze, 30 fire-fighters used three water jets and three hose reels to tackle the outbreak.

Station Officer Cope said the efforts of fire-fighters were hampered by mounds of rubble placed in the driveway to stop trespassers.

He said the solid doors made entry to the building difficult and the first floor and roof were well alight with the blaze spreading in two directions.

Fireplace

Probably around 40% of the roof has gone and part of the first floor has fallen through to the ground floor, he said.

Station Officer Cope said he understood there was an important carved oak fireplace and timbers in the building and every effort had been made to save as much of the premises as possible.

Owner Mr Franck Pelle said he was very upset. It is unbelievable. It is such a beautiful building, he said.

The property which has over 30 bedrooms was closed last July after being run as a private nursing home and put on the market with a price tag of over 895,000.

Mr Pelle said a buyer had been found but was unable to discuss the matter further. It is very sad, he said on Friday morning on his way to look at the damage.

The Holme, in Burnley Road, has had a chequered history after being built around 1600. In the late 1970s it became the Holme Country Club which lasted for three years before closing in 1981. It was then converted into a private nursing home in the early 1980s. It closed last July with 20 residents finding new homes.

Shortly afterwards there were rumours in the village that superstar Phil Collins was interested in buying the building but nothing came of it. In 1996 there was a major row over the felling of protected trees on the site.

Businessman Mr Paul Dew, who owned The Holme when it was a country club, at one time had plans to build on the land but these were turned down.

After Fridays fire, he said: It is a real pity. It is a nice building. Because of the restrictions imposed as to the buildings use it has stood empty and been burned down.

The arson attack on March 28th caused severe heat damage in the hallway but had burned itself out by the time fire-fighters arrived.