NEIGHBOURS fled their homes after a blaze broke out in the kitchen of an empty home.

Firefighters were called to the terrace house in Gerrard Street, Farnworth, at about 10.45am yesterday.

The house is unoccupied but it is believed squatters could have been living there.

It is not yet known what caused the fire but it is not believed to have been started deliberately.

Neighbour Helen Bent, aged 25, heard a window smash and spotted the flames and smoke coming from next door and rang 999.

She said: “I heard a bang and the window just shattered because of the fire.

“If I had not been here the whole street could have gone up.

“I got out as quickly as I could. I thought it could have spread into my loft.

“My house is smoke damaged from the fire but nothing set alight.”

Firefighters spent several hours dealing with the blaze.

Watch manager Danny Marshall said: “Our main concern was that it could be communal loft space and spread to other properties in the street.

“There is significant damage to the kitchen and smoke damage to the stairs and upper floors.

”The cause is under investigation, but there is no suggestion it was deliberate.”