THIEVES are suspected of starting a blaze at a derelict pub after stealing copper pipes from under floorboards.

The burglars are thought to have set fire to rubbish in an upstairs room of the boarded-up Crescent Hotel in Blackburn, on Friday.

Neighbours reported suspicious activity at the former Thwaites pub in Bank Lane, Intack, to police at around 5.30pm.

About three hours later, at 8.37pm, firefighters from Blackburn Fire Station were called to tackle a blaze at the pub. One room was destroyed by fire and the rest was smoke damaged.

Firefighter Stephen Hor- rocks, one of the crew members who fought the blaze for about 90 minutes, said: “Somebody had been trying to steal the copper pipes, and lead off the roof.

“Whoever had been in there had smashed through the back door and the floorboards were ripped up.

“There was a pile of rubbish set alight in the upstairs bedroom and it was burning well when we got there.”

Residents who live in the area said there was an ongoing problem with anti-social behaviour.

One neighbour said: “You see big gangs of them going in there. Either groups of kids or druggies. It isn’t nice, as I have young children and I don’t want them seeing that. You can hear loud bangs when they just start ripping up the place.”