FIRE CREWS have been tackling a huge fire at a former care home which raged for much of this morning.

The blaze broke out at the detached Edwardian-style property in Bury Road, Radcliffe, shortly before 4.40am.

Flames tore through the roof of the historic building which is currently undergoing renovation work to be converted for domestic use.

At its height, four fire engines, two aerial platforms and dozens of firefighters battled to beat back the fire.

Fortunately, no one was in the property when the fire started.

Rick Taylor, watch manager at Bury Fire Station, said: "When we got there the fire was well alight with the roof and first floor on fire.

"There had been a partial collapse of the roof meaning it was unsafe to send in firefighters, so we had to strip the roof back to access the fire and tackle it from the outside and above.

"The fire has done a lot of damage. The roof is probably 100 per cent damaged and there is also a lot of water damage."

The firefighting operation has since been scaled back, although two fire engines and an aerial appliance remain at the scene.

Fire crews believe the fire may have started inside the building and spread to the roof, and a fire investigation is currently underway.

Residents are being advised to keep their doors and windows shut while fire service continues to make the scene safe.

Watch manager Taylor added: "A fire investigation is in progress to establish the cause of the fire.

"We will now continue to try and extinguish any hot spots and make sure the fire is completely out." 

The fire comes just days after housing development work began to covert the historic property.

Stained glass windows, featuring the Manchester Bee, as well as a ramp, had recently been added to the building, which lies on a main route between Radcliffe and Bury.

The construction work follows an application to make alterations, including the installation of new window openings and a staircase to the basement, which was approved in June last year.

Proposals, submitted by Ben Riley, of Aon Estates Ltd, show outline drawings for 13 bedrooms to be developed inside the property, plus a kitchen area, dining room and lounge.

Prior to this the building, which has a long history, had laid in a dilapidated state for many months.

The detached property was originally part of the Withins Lane Colliery and in 1907 the site was redeveloped into a single building.

In the 1950s it was the St Mary’s Parish Church Rectory at Church Green.

After a period as offices, the rectory became a care home in 1985.