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Darwen care home 'target for squatters and addicts'
NEIGHBOURS of a boarded-up former care home have called for action after an arson attack left it an eyesore.
The former Highfield House care home in Darwen was badly damaged in the fire on Monday.
The blaze, started in an upstairs bedroom, caused dramatic scenes in Sudell Road as residents watched flames billow out of the windows.
The care home shut in late 2012 after residents were left with no hot water or heating for three weeks. And neighbours, as well as ward councillors, have since called for the building’s owners to do something about it.
One neighbour said: “Since it closed we have had squatters and druggies using the building.
“It is a real shame because it is a nice building and it used to be a lovely care home.
“It is an eyesore now and we just want them to do something.”
Margaret Gent watched as the fire service launched a four-hour operation to put out the flames.
She said: “Everyone was out watching and the flames coming out and smoke were horrendous.”
Last year, there was a similar attack at the former Highfield Working Men’s Club in Ratcliffe Street.
Coun Chris Thayne said he had some concerns about arson in the area. He said: “It is always worrying that these things can trigger replication because people don’t sit down and think about the consequences “With the working men’s club we have been asking the council to put some pressure on the owners because there is a lot of incendiary material. The same can be said for the care home after this attack as it is important to make it as difficult as possible for people to cause such damage.”
Coun Thayne added that since Monday’s fire, the council’s environmental sustainability manager Stuart Hammond had confirmed he would ask the fire service to assess the risk of a repeat incident at the site.
Building owner Surjit Dhillon, chief of Dhillon Financial UK was unavailable for comment.
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