AN ITALIAN restaurant in Ramsbottom has been badly damaged by a blaze which started in the early hours of this morning.

Fire crews were called to the Venetian Hideaway, in Market Place, at around 3am on Monday after a fire was sparked by an electrical fault.

The blaze has destroyed a flight of stairs and the restaurant's cellar, as well as causing severe smoke damaged to the rest of the building.

Nobody was in the restaurant at the time of the fire.

Crew manager Tony Wilson, from Bury fire station, said: "We have put it down to an electrical fault under the stairs.

"The fire started there and destroyed the stairs and the cellar room. The rest of the building has suffered bad smoke damage, too.

"We had problems getting into the building, with the fire being downstairs. Because the stairs had burned away, we couldn't get access and had to go through a back entrance."