AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after a blaze ripped through a mill.

More than 30 firefighters tackled the fire at the premises in Brownlow Business Park, Tennyson Street, Halliwell, at about 1.30am yesterday.

Firefighters had to break in to the building to tackle the ground floor inferno. Four vehicles on the ground floor were damaged.

Business Afford-a-Part suffered the worst damage along with Bolton Area Divers Ltd and new gym, CrossFit Primal Training.

Crews from Bolton Central, Bolton North, Farnworth, Atherton and Eccles were at the scene for about four hours. The cause of the blaze is not yet known.

Specially trained fire service dogs were drafted in to sniff out whether the fire had been started with accelerants such as petrol, paraffin and white spirit.

An alarm alerted the boss of Afford-a-Part to the blaze shortly after it is thought to have started.

The firm has been based at the business park since November, 2011.

James Colter, manager of CrossFit Primal Training, was due to hold an open day to encourage people to come to his new gym yesterday.

Mr Colter, aged 29, of Cloister Street, Halliwell, said: “My housemate saw the fire on the news and told me.

“I had a bit of a panic and ran down to see what had happened.

“Fortunately everything at my gym is ok. I am relieved the damage wasn’t worse as I thought everything would be destroyed.

“I thought the fire would have gone through the wall into my gym.

“It was going to be the big CrossFit launch on Bank Holiday Monday.

“I will have to wait to tell people what’s happened when they arrive and told people over the gym’s Facebook page.”

He said the electricity was not working and the gym was smoke-logged but the equipment was not damaged. Mr Colter added he thought the water coolers would need replacing.

Neighbours living near the scene said they believed a break-in had been reported at the mill earlier this month.

A 26-year-old man, from Halliwell, who asked not to be named, said: “The business park is locked overnight so if someone started the fire I think someone must have climbed over the high fences.

“The people who work there are hardworking people trying to make a living.

“I hope they can carry on and don’t have to close because of the fire.”

The fire comes two days after a blaze at a disused mill in River Street in the town centre on Saturday.

Royal House building, a mill also on Tennyson Street, suffered extensive fire damage in February, 2010.