ABOUT 45 firefighters tackled a blaze which severely damaged a disused listed mill in Thornton.

It started at Prospect Mills just before 3pm yesterday and firecrews have been at the scene all night.

The last remaining fire engine  left at 10am today and handed the incident over to demolition crews.

The fierce fire completely engulfed the second and third floor of the four-storey building. It was under control by around 8.30pm yesterday but reduced numbers of firefighters stayed overnight damping down.

A fire service spokesman said it closed the incident at 10am today and it was now inthe hands of demolition crews.

Fire investigators are working alongside police to investigate the cause.

People close to the blaze said there were a number of explosions as the mill went up in flames.

Flames could be seen pouring out of windows and palls of thick black smoke also cloaked the surrounding area.

The roof of the mill was destroyed by the fire within an hour and all the building's windows were blown out.

A structural engineer was on site last night but a full survey to see whether any of the building can be saved was not due to be carried out until today.

Homes close to the mill, which has stood empty for years, were heavily smoke-logged and some were evacuated.

Police said some passing cars were hit by falling debris from the mill as the fire took hold.

A 43-year-old woman, who lives on Prospect Street, told the Telegraph & Argus that the building was fully ablaze within about five minutes. She was still not being allowed back into her property yesterday evening.

She said: "I came out of my house to go and pick the kids up and my daughter said the second floor of the mill was on fire. It was only coming out of one window.

"We rang the fire service and within five minutes, from it coming out of that window, the whole thing was on fire. It went up straight away - it was very scary."

Laura Atkinson, 30, and her young son and daughter, evacuated their home and headed to her mum's in Keighley.

She said: "I had just been cooking a chicken dinner and I thought I had burned it.

"It was a bit scary for my children. We could see smoke and fire and they were running around the house. It was really smoky in the house."

A 48-year-old man, who did not want to be named, said: "I have never seen a building go up that quick - I think it had gone up within the space of ten minutes. Both sides of the building were burning and all the windows blew out.

"I have watched stuff like this on TV and seen it in town, but this is the first time I've seen a fire up here like that."

Kimberley Doran, 38, who lives in Thornton Road, said she and another woman helped an elderly woman along the road as she tried to get home.

"We helped a lady walk from Bell Dean Road," she said. "She has heart trouble and needed her tablets."

The elderly woman was not allowed past a police cordon set up outside the Blue Boar pub in Thornton Road. A man inside the pub gave the woman a lift to her house, which was on the other side of the cordon.

Mrs Doran added: "I just saw all the fire engines coming up and thick black smoke. I came out of the house and the mill was just blazing. There were explosions when I was walking up."

One teenager said: "I was walking along and could see fire coming out of the building. I thought it was my house at first."

A man, who did not want to be named, said: "It looks like they are going to have to demolish it. The roof has completely gone."

Firefighters from Fairweather Green Shipley, Bradford, including an aerial appliance, Illingworth, Odsal, Bingley, Rawdon, Halifax, Idle and Morley attended the blaze.

Market Street in Thornton was jammed with traffic while fire crews tackled the blaze.

Thornton Road was closed overnight between Spring Head Road and Kipping Lane as firefighters remained at the scene damping down.