TWO arsonists admitted causing a blaze at a derelict church.

Scott Withington, aged 26, of Barfield Road, Salford, and a 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, set fire to the former United Reformed Anglican Church in Beta Street, School Hill, at about 3pm on March 19, 2012.

Police officers doused the flames with a fire extinguisher from their car before firefighters arrived. Police were called after receiving information about two men acting suspiciously.

When they drove along Beta Street, they saw the former church on fire.

After the blaze crew commander Mick Hodson, from Bolton Central fire station, said the police officers’ actions saved the building from being seriously damaged. He added: “Because they caught the fire very early it only damaged the outside. It was just a bit of scarring.”

Withinton admitted arson and the teenager admitted arson, theft and perverting the course of justice.

Judge Elliot Knopf adjourned the case for pre-sentence reports to be prepared. They will be sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on March 7.