A FIRE which broke out at a mills in Halliwell is being treated as arson.

The fire, which was reported just  before 2pm today, was at Halliwell Mills in Bertha Street, off Halliwell Road.

The premises contains a number of businesses who have all lost power as the flames have damaged a small electricity substation at the site.

Five fire engines including a hydraulic platform were in attendance, along with two police cars.

Fire crews quickly brought the blaze under control within the hour using extending platforms to get above the building and pump water down through the roof. They remained on the scene until 6pm.

Police are now investigating.

An eyewitness said: "I came out of our building and saw a cloud of black smoke coming out of the shutters in the building next door.

"I ran inside, told my boss and he rang the fire brigade."

The mill has been damaged by fires in the past, including a blaze in 2016 caused by arsonists setting a pile of tires alight outside the building.

David Jackson, who works in one of the businesses inside the mill, said many staff had not noticed the blaze and were shocked when they saw the smoke.

He added: "We came out for a smoke break and we noticed three fire engines. It looked like rubber was burning when we first saw it.

"The firefighters used a piece of equipment to cut through the front door and then a lot of them went inside.

"After they got through the door they dealt with it really quickly."