SIX fire engines were called to tackle a blaze last night at a derelict mill in Atherton town centre.

Smoke was seen coming for the third floor of the 122 year-old six-storey Victorian building in Gloucester Street at around 10pm.

Fire crews from Atherton and Hindley stations raced to the old Howe Bridge Number 3 Mill and were joined shortly after by two crews from Bolton Central, one from Farnworth and one from Hyde.

Atherton crew manager Rob Macauley said: "The mill is right across the road from the fire station and as soon as we got the call and started to make our way there we could see black smoke coming from the window.

"We were struggling to gain access to the building through the gates and as we were trying to get in we heard over the radio that there could be someone inside.

"We saw flames coming from the window so due to the size of the building and the fact that someone could be trapped inside we immediately requested a further four fire engines to attend to make sure we had enough firefighters to stop the fire spreading and search the building."

Crews spent around three hours on the scene searching the mill and nobody was found.

The blaze is thought to have been deliberately started in a pile of rubbish and was confined to a small area of the third floor.

Crew Manager Macauley added: "It turned out to be smaller than we first thought and we managed to stop is spreading to the other side of the mill."