TWO men were taken to hospital – and Blackpool town centre sealed off – after a blaze ripped through a shop.
More than 50 firefighters were drafted in at 5am today after reports of a fire in the old Poundstoppers store on Birley Street.
Two men in a flat above the shop had to flee for their lives.
One of the men suffered serious burns and was taken to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester. The other was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital suffering smoke inhalation.
The alarm was raised by a member of the public.
Firefighters from across the Fylde coast tackled the blaze which saw plumes of smoke pouring out of the roof of the building.
But the crews were able to prevent the fire spreading to neighbouring properties including the new Co-op on the corner of Birley Street and Abingdon Street.
Kathy Stacey, spokeswoman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said “On arrival fire crews were faced with a very intense blaze.
“Two people had managed to get outside themselves and our priority was to prevent the fire spreading which we were able to do.
“It was difficult conditions because it was pitch black and absolutely freezing and the water was freezing on to the firefighters uniforms and where it had gone on to the ground, it was extremely treacherous.”
The blaze was contained to the premises and took around an hour to get under control by firefighters who used an aerial ladder.
Lancashire Police helicopter was also scrambled as officers on the ground closed town centre roads including Birley Street and parts of Clifton Street and Talbot Road.
The two casualties are believed to have been squatting in the property.
Fire chiefs said the cause of the fire is being investigated by the police and fire service.