fire crews at pub blaze hampered by ‘Rogue private drone’

fire crews at pub blaze hampered by ‘Rogue private drone’

by Henry James (October 2020)

FIRE crews who tackled a major blaze at a former historic pub in Westhead were hampered in their efforts by a ‘rogue private drone’ which was being flown overhead by a resident.

A major blaze broke out at the site of what used to be the Halton Castle pub shortly after 11pm on Friday, October 2, with fire crews from Skelmersdale, Ormskirk and Greater Manchester attending the incident.

However, firefighters were unable to deploy their own drone for half an hour because of a private drone which was being flown over the building.

Flames and thick black smoke came out of the roof of the building on Castle Lane. The former pub has been empty since 2016, and permission was given for it to be demolished last year.

Lancashire Fire Service protection service delivery manager Ian Armistead criticised the person who flew a “private rogue drone” over the site at the time they were fighting the fire.

He tweeted: “The drone hampered firefighting tactics and delayed the deployment of the Lancashire Fire Service drone. Please don’t do it.

“The rogue drone prevented us from flying our drone for at least 30 minutes.

“It seems like the message isn’t getting through. Keep away from emergency service incidents.”

Police and the fire service have launched an investigation following the fire.

A Lancashire Fire spokesman said: “Firefighters from Skelmersdale, Ormskirk and a crew from

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Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue attended reports of a fire at a derelict commercial premises on Castle Lane, Westhead.

“On arrival firefighters found the roof of a building well alight. Crews used a stinger and three hose reels to bring the fire under control.”

The A577 Wigan Road was closed for a time due to concerns about the safety of the structure.

The former Halton Castle pub is not listed as site of historical significance, although it has a history going back to 1840.

Developers want to build homes on the site and in 2019 West Lancashire Borough Council approved plans, which were submitted by GM 2 Ltd in 2018, to demolish the pub and build six semi-detached homes and four apartments.

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