NEIGHBOURS have spoken of their horror after a fire left an elderly man fighting for his life.

Emergency services were called to a house on Leigh Road shortly before 7pm last night.

Fire engines, ambulances, police and an air ambulance were spotted on scene, with at least 20 firefighters fighting to bring the blaze under control.

Sandra Grech, who lives next door, called the fire brigade after she spotted the smoke.

She said: “I’d been out shopping and got back home about 6.30 and I could smell smoke as soon as I walked into the house.

“I just looked out the back and the smoke was so thick you couldn’t see through it and when I ran I could see the flames over the top of my wall, it’s around 8ft tall, and hear shouting.

“When I ran out the front a motorist had pulled over because there was thick black smoke pouring everywhere, and he was banging on the door and shouting through the letterbox, and then a young Asian couple started shouting and ran round the back to help.

“The fire crews were here in less than 10 minutes but by then the house was just engulfed, the windows started blowing out and there was thick black smoke everywhere, it was horrendous.”

Residents were forced to evacuate their homes and move down the street, away from the flames.

The fire service advised those closest to the fire to stay elsewhere overnight because of the smoke, which has caused a lot of damage to neighbouring properties.

Ms Grech added: “It’s just been horrible, it was such a shock.

“It could have been a lot worse but it’s just such a shame that it’s happened in the first place.

“The fire investigators were here all morning and one of them said that he’s in quite a serious condition. They also said a structural engineer needed to come out to assess the property, and there was concerns about our homes and the roof.

“CID have been round taking statements, and the fire service have been here digging all the stuff out this morning.”

Police have been working alongside fire investigators to establish the cause of the fire.

Four fire engines and specialist support vehicles from Bolton Central, Atherton, Leigh, Hindley, and Rochdale fire stations attended the fire.

The occupant of the house, believed to be an elderly man who lived on his own, was pulled from the back of the property and given medical treatment before being taken to hospital.

Anyone with information that could help the investigation should call police on 101, quoting incident number 2427 of 06/07/20, or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.