TEENAGE firethugs are thought to be responsible for a blaze that broke out in a listed building in Barrow.

Around 20 firefighters tackled the raging flames and smoke at a derelict building in Buccleuch Dock Road, Barrow Island.

Smoke was seen billowing out of the building across the town as flames smashed through glass windows.

The Mail previously reported that fire bosses had warned the building, an old medical centre, could become the "next House of Lords" after the former working men's club in Abbey Road was ravaged by fire in January 2017.

One community leader who answered residents' calls to demolish said it would be too much of a drain on council resources because of its listed status.

One fire officer at the scene said it was though to It it thought the Barrow Island fire was started deliberately, fire crews said.

One witness, Jane Smith, who lives in Dundee Street, often sees children hanging around the building.

She said: "It must be the work of kids. I see all the time at all time of the day coming into the building and messing around.

"It is shocking to see that someone has done this."

Another onlooker said: "It is a shame that someone has done this to such a lovely building.

"It is like no fire I have ever seen before."

Fire crews battled with the blaze - isolated on the second floor of the building for several hours - using hoses on aerial platform to put out the flames.

Crews were called to the fire at 3.30pm.

Stuart Dolan, the fire operation commander for south Cumbria, described how firefighters struggled with the blaze.

He said: "We got to the fire with two appliances and when we saw the strength of the fire we enlisted two more.

"We started using hoses but it became clear there was a lack of water pressure so we brought two more engines and used water from hydrants nearby."

He said that onlookers had told him they had seen a group of youths flee the building shortly before it caught fire.

Dave Pidduck, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, said action should be taken to stop similar events occurring again, but that it would be expensive to demolish a listed building to guard against intruders.

He said: "It is very expensive for the council to demolish a listed building.

"But whatever can be done to stop this happening should be done.

"I hope this was not deliberate but if it was then we will leave police and fire to investigate further."

Anyone with information can contact police on 101.