A HOUSE close to the heart of a multi-million regeneration project has been targeted in an arson attack.

The empty terraced property, in Royds Street, Accrington, was badly damaged after it was broken into and set it alight at around 10pm on Monday.

The home is in the midst of the Woodnook Regeneration Project, which aims to bring more than 150 properties back into use at a cost of around £15 million.

The property is not owned by developer PlaceFirst, or earmarked for development as part of the project, but is within a stone’s throw of the council’s top regeneration priority.

Resident Rebecca Cassidy lives in one of only two occupied properties in the street, which features rows of boarded up, derelict homes.

The 20-year-old said: “It happened when I was watching Game of Thrones on TV. I heard the fire alarm going off before I saw the fire.

“I called the fire brigade at 10.05pm and they were here within a minute.”

Ms Cassidy said nobody was living in the home, but several people had been spotted entering and exiting around the corner in Nuttall Street.

She added: “The area is quiet at the minute. We are the only one on this street apart from a lady up the road, but it’s run down, which is why there’s lots of work going on.”

The blaze came just days before two renovated properties, in nearby Hudson Street and Augusta Street, were shown off to families.

Deputy council leader and housing boss Coun Clare Pritchard said there was no need for prospective Woodnook residents interested in the newly refurbished homes to be worried by the attack.

She added: “Empty properties don’t do any good. When people start going in, there will be less hassle because more people will be around.

“It’s a work in progress but it’s something we are working very hard on.”

A fire service spokesman said ten firefighters tackled the blaze. He said: “We were told nobody was inside the property, and nobody was. The fire was in three downstairs rooms so firefighters wearing breathing apparatus went inside to tackle it at close quarters.

“There was severe damage to the floors and skirting boards, and the rest of the house was filled by smoke.”

Mr Taylor said an investigation found the fire was started deliberately.