A huge blaze ripped through a garage in Lancaster and quickly spread to nearby properties.
The fire, one of two major fires in the area on Wednesday (September 20), broke out at around 4pm at Parkfield Garage in Bowerham Road.
Three fire engines and six firefighters with breathing apparatus attended the scene and Bowerham Road was closed in both directions while the flames were hosed down.
Chris Dale, from Palatine Road, saw the incident unfold.
He said: “The garage went up and you could see smoke billowing out of the roof from streets away.
“It looked like a car inside had started the fire.
“The cornershop next door went up, and so did the Wolfwood charity shop on the other side.”
An immediate victim of the devastating fire was the Wolfwood Animal Charity situated next door to the garage.
Charity head Steve Wakelin, of Ellel, who set up the initiative four years ago, was nearly in tears.
He said staff member Dianne Blezard had shut up shop at 4pm but then heard an explosion from the neighbouring garage.
Mr Wakelin said: “Looking at the shop you would think it has only affected the front window and the sign above the front door, but the roof has collapsed and the interior is full of smoke. Basically, it will all have to be rebuilt.”
The blaze destroyed hundreds of pounds worth of items donated for sale like clothes, DVDs, books and bric-a-brac. Mr Wakelin is uncertain whether its insurance will cover all the costs of the damage.
The charity provides a home for dozens of injured wildlife found across an area as large as Carlisle and Cheshire, although they are housed at a different site and are safe.
Mr Wakelin said: “What’s more upsetting is thinking of all the people who helped with the interior of the building. A lot of them donated time and stock value, the whole setting up of the shop was built from nothing.”
*Meanwhile, residents looked in horror when a dramatic fire broke out at a three-storey property in Morecambe. The blaze tore through the unoccupied house on a residential street on Claremont Road in the town’s West End at around 5.30pm on Wednesday, September 20.
Anxious neighbours called emergency services after seeing flames shooting through the upper stories of the building.
One eyewitness who lives nearby, but did not want to be named, feared the fire could spread to neighbour residential properties.
He claimed the unoccupied house had become a den for drug users.
Speaking from the scene, he said: “There is black smoke pouring out and it is really taking hold of the third floor.”
The man suggested the house, believed to be empty, is well known to the police for drug use and is regularly broken into.
Fire crews attended the scene and sealed off part of the street.