A huge safety operation was ongoing this morning as firefighters continued to work on an iconic Nelson building which has been ravaged by fire.
The fire at the former Spiritualist Church building next to Unity Hall Wellbeing Centre in Vernon Street started just after midnight today.
The blaze was so ferocious that six fire engines from Nelson, Burnley and Colne were at the scene.
County Coun. Azhar Ali has demanded an immediate police investigation into the fire.
He said: "It is an absolute tragedy that this historic church has gone up in flames.
"Pendle Council and the fire service need to act quickly to make sure that what remains of the site is made safe and the police must launch a full investigation into what caused this fire.
"The Unity Wellbeing Centre has suffered smoke and heat damage and we need to make sure that neighbouring residents are all OK and are not affected by some damage."
Coun. Zafar Ali, chairman of Nelson Town Council, which owns Unity Hall, described the destruction of the iconic building as a 'sad loss for Nelson'.
He said: "We woke up to sad news this morning. The town council was actually speaking to the agent for the building just two weeks ago with a view to buying it and extending our Unity Wellbeing project.
"Both iconic buildings were built in 1907 and we wanted to preserve this Nelson heritage for the future. Sadly, this no longer looks possible."
Early Suffragist Selina Cooper had helped to lay the foundation stones for the buildings which served as the second assembly hall for the independent Labour party in Nelson at the turn of the last century.