FIREFIGHTERS battled a blaze at a gospel church overnight.

Six crews were called out to tackle the fire that broke out at the front of the Citadel of Celestians Cathedral - the former Primitive Methodist Church - at the junction of Memorial Road and Rushton Street in Walkden.

The congregation had held a Sunday worship earlier in the day and neighbours feared there may be people inside.

Firefighters investigated and found no one on site.

Michele Owen said: "We live on Memorial Road opposite the church.
"Around 10pm we noticed the blaze.

"Firefighters came quickly to the church.

"I spoke to some members of the church around midnight and they confirmed that thankfully no one was inside. The fire service have been working all night.

"Police say 'arson is suspected' and local residents are saddened."

A spokesman for the church did not wish to comment this morning.

Engines from Agecroft, Eccles, Farnworth, Atherton and Leigh attended and there is still one pump present.

Sue Tydd posted on Facebook last night: "There are currently a lot of fire engines, ambulance and police outside the church.

"A couple of the church elders/leaders arrived a while ago, there are quite a few of the congregation arriving."

Damien Morrissey said: "How sad. My mum takes my children to the panto there every Christmas."

The Bolton News:

The cause of the blaze is unknown and is under investigation by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.