A LARGE- SCALE blaze at the former Skelmersdale Sports Centre is being treated as suspicious.
Fire crews from Lancashire were called to the now derelict sports centre building, on Digmoor Road, just before 3pm on Boxing Day.
Six fire engines and an aerial ladder platform attended the blaze.
A spokesman for Lancashire Fire Service said around half of the two-storey structure was “well alight” when fire crews arrived.
People living nearby were warned to keep their windows and doors shut because of smoke from the fire.
Concerns over asbestos in the building had led to residents being advised to keep their doors and windows closed.
But, after police officers visited the houses on the nearby Digmoor estate, the risk was found to be minimal.
Digmoor councillor Terry Aldridge praised police and fire crews for keeping residents informed.
He said: “The whole building went up and it looked like the roof had collapsed. It was a big fire.”
The centre was controversially closed by the council in October. Police are now urging anyone who witnessed anything suspicious or has any information to contact them.
Det Con Graham Hunt, from West Lancashire CID, said: “By 8pm, firefighters had the blaze under control and a joint police and fire investigation is now under way.
“Although the cause of the fire is still unknown at this stage, we are treating it as suspicious and I would appeal to anybody who has any information that could assist with our investigation to call Lancashire Police on 101.”
People with information can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or go to www.crimestoppers-uk.org