FIREFIGHTERS spent more than three hours tackling a blaze after a suspected arson attack in a flat above a former chip shop.

A neighbour called the emergency services after seeing smoke billowing from the flat in Chorley Old Road, opposite Morrisons, just after 9am yesterday.

Crews from Bolton Central attended and called for help from a crew at Bolton North Fire Station.

Watch manager Kirk Cornwall, from Bolton Central Fire Station, said firefighters forced their way into the building after being unable to gain access at the back.

A lounge in the upstairs flat had been wrecked by fire and a bedroom in a loft conversion was also badly damaged.

The occupant of the home was out at the time.

Fire investigators believe the blaze was started deliberately. Watch manager Cornwall said: “When we arrived there was smoke coming from the first floor and the converted attic space. The main fire was in the back room and it had started spreading up to the attic space. The damage was quite extensive.”

A firefighter was taken to A&E after injuring muscles in his back while using a door ram to gain entry to the flat.

Michael Gallagher, aged 71, of nearby Avondale Street, said: “I saw firefighters at the back of the flat and there was smoke and flames coming from a window.

“A man from a neighbouring flat had been asleep but his two young girls were awake and smelled smoke.”

A man, aged in his 20s, was arrested on suspicion of arson yesterday at the scene.