A blaze that badly damaged a Bradford mill building is being treated as arson.

More than 80 firefighters were called to Prospect Mill, off Thornton Road, Thornton, with many working until the early hours of yesterday to bring it under control.

Hayden Lister, who lives a few yards from the scene in Prospect Street, reported a break-in at the mill to police only 40 minutes before smoke started pouring from the building.

Mr Lister said: “I had seen some lads going down there and heard breaking glass, so I reported it to police. At about 8pm the police phoned me and said they couldn’t see anything.

“Then the mill went up. Smoke was blowing right across the road and round the back of the house. You could see the smoke going up through the building and out of the top.”

Bernard Doherty, 42, was visiting his girlfriend in Prospect Street as the blaze took hold.

“There was just smoke all down the bottom of the road,” he said. “All the bay doors have been knocked through so that they (firefighters) can get in and all up the first three floors looks like it has been burned out.”

Fire crews from Bradford, Odsal, Fairweather Green, Shipley and Illingworth were joined by firefighters from as far away as Stanningley, Halifax, Batley and Cookridge in fighting the blaze.

Fairweather Green watch commander Mark Whittaker said: “The fire was between the floors but it is restricted access because one of the floors was going to collapse.

“It is under investigation but looks like it was deliberate.”

A crew remained at the scene yesterday morning and a fire investigator attended later in the day.

Police said officers had been called to the mill three times in the last month to reports of anti-social behaviour there.

Mr Lister said: “There are teenagers come up and down the road and use the back of the mill to smoke and drink. Nobody minds if they don’t do anything dangerous but, in the last month, there has been some real problems.”

  • Read the full story in Friday's T&A