A TAKEAWAY owner fears for his family’s future after his business was engulfed in flames following an arson attack.

Firefighters were called to Hurtley Street, Burnley, following reports of the takeaway and four neighbouring derelict properties on fire.

During a six-hour operation, involving around 20 crew members, the fire service battled to contain the fire and stop it spreading through the attics to other neighbouring properties.

Two crews from Burnley and Nelson attended the scene along with an aerial platform each from Hyndburn and Morecambe.

The fire service said the fire was started in the derelict property adjoining the takeaway and the incident was being treated as suspicious.

The business is the only occupied building on the row of houses. Residents said there had been problems with people breaking into the empty homes.

After being notified by the police shortly after the fire broke out at 6.30am on Saturday, takeaway owner Zahid Sharif, 35, rushed to the business he has run since 2004 to assess the damage.

The dad-of-three, who employs three people at ‘Sharif’s Takeaway’, said: “I’m very fearful for my family’s future now because this is the only way that I can provide for them.

“There have been more and more problems in this area since the council boarded up the other properties.

“Every week people start fires and they have targeted my business and my wheelie bins many times before.

“I think that the council should have knocked them down four years ago when they first boarded them up because it has been a great concern for me for a while and now look what has happened.

“I feel so distressed by this and I have no idea how I’m going to care for my family.”

A section of the road and surrounding streets were cordoned off by the fire service whilst the clean-up operation was underway.

The shop was also boarded up, but would-be thieves kicked in part of the door overnight on Saturday.

Burnley station manager Steve Morgan, who was in charge of the operation, said: “We arrived on the scene shortly after 6.30am after receiving reports of a fire affecting five properties.

“The first officer on the scene very quickly realised that this was a major fire and dealt with that accordingly.

“Extra pumps were called for from Nelson and also other equipment from Blackburn and Morecambe.

“Our primary objective was to stop the fire spreading down the street through the roof spaces.

“The way these houses are built means that it’s very easy for a fire to spread through the roofs and the oxygen gets sucked in to feed the fire.

“We managed to contain the fire and then worked back down the street towards the takeaway.

“Severe damage was caused to three of the properties.”