A DEVASTATING fire that destroyed two businesses was a 'premeditated arson attack' carried out by two men, police have said.

The fire gutted a property housing two dental laboratories in Plodder Lane, Farnworth.

Fire crews rushed to the scene shortly after midnight on Friday and fought the blaze for hours.

Now, police say the fire was 'deliberately started by two men' in the building, home to Pristine Dental Lab on the ground floor, as they appealed for information. 

Just 10 minutes after the pair entered the dental laboratory through the rear entrance, there was a 'large explosion' and the men ran out of that same entrance, police said in a statement.

The fire spread through the building to R&W Dental Lab on the floor above, also affecting Retail Laundry next door.

One of the men has been described as wearing a long sleeved padded jacket with an emblem on the left breast and a hood over his head.

The other man was seen wearing a waist length coat that had an emblem on the left upper arm. The coat had a fur-lined hood, which was pulled up over his head. He also appeared to be wearing a separate face covering.

Officers are now appealing for any witnesses that may have seen the attack.

Detective Sergeant Samantha Parry of the Bolton District said: “This was a premeditated arson attack that caused severe damage to the premises and buildings surrounding it.

“I would like to reassure the community that we are doing all we can to protect residents and find those responsible for the arson attack.

“We are appealing to anyone who was near the Pristine Dental Laboratory on Plodder Lane at the time of the explosion on Friday 27 December 2019 and saw two men acting suspiciously in the area matching our description to contact police as soon as possible.

“Any details you may have could be crucial in our search for more information.”

The Bolton News:

Police at the scene on Friday confirmed to The Bolton News that there were no casualties from the fire.

Today, Bolton Council reported the road open again. But business owners have been advised not to return to their properties due to extensive damage to the building.

A police cordon will remain in place while forensics continue to investigate the incident. Demolition teams are also observing the building, as it is an unsafe structure.

Anyone with any information should call 0161 856 5757 quoting incident number 74 of 27/12/2019. Details can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.