yobs pelted firefighters with stones as they tackled a fire in Daubhill caused by arsonists.

The youths threw stones at three firefighters as they used a hose reel to extinguish the flames, darting behind nearby buildings and derelict shops as they attacked the crew.

Watch manager Mick Hodson, who was one of the crew members attempting to fight the blaze, branded the two male youths, said to in their late teens, as “cowards”.

The crew from Bolton Central was called out at 12.30am yesterday after reports of a fire in the yard of The Manchester Superstore in Cannon Street.

As the blaze was in a yard surrounded by fencing, three firefighters had to use a ladder to get into the compound to fight the blaze.

Mr Hodson said two wooden pallets had been moved from a storage pile to the centre of the yard and deliberately set on fire.

As they extinguished the flames, they heard a number of thuds.

Mr Hodson said: “At first we didn’t even know it was stones being thrown — then we saw them behind the fence throwing stones and running off.

“They were launching stones at us.

“They were cowards, hiding behind derelict shops then nipping out throwing the stones and running back again.”

Mr Hodson, who has been a firefighter in Bolton for six years, says he has never experienced anything like it before.

He added: “When you think about the things that we see, having a few stones thrown at us doesn’t seem that bad. But if someone had got injured then that is a crew off the road.

“They do deserve to be caught and should be named and shamed.”

Police are investigating.

l Earlier this year, two youths were sentenced at Bolton Magistrates’ Court after stones and pieces of wood were thrown at firefighters as they tried to tackle a bin fire in Johnson Fold in January.

An 18-year-old boy was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work while a 16-year-old boy was given a 12-month youth rehabilitation order with intensive supervision and surveillance, and a three-month curfew.