ARMED riot police sealed off a Clayton-le-Moors street as they hunted a Samurai swordsman.
The drama began when a man at the East Lancashire Box Company in Spring Street, Rishton, threatened a worker with the sword shortly after 10.30am on Wednesday.
A man, in his early 20s, then left the premises. A team of 10 officers, some of them armed and dressed in riot gear, later rushed to an address in Pickup Street, Clayton, in search of the swordsman.
They broke into a house with a battering ram and recovered a small samurai sword about 20 inches long but the alleged offender was not there.
The area around Pickup Street was cordoned off for much of Wednesday afternoon as the investigation continued and crowds gathered in the street.
Inspector Nick Williams-Jones said: "Because of the nature of the reported incident, a few of the officers had firearms as it was deemed necessary for the protection of the public."
He added: "We were obviously quite concerned about the offender’s state of mind.
"We do not now believe he is a risk to the public or to police officers but he may be a risk to himself."
Flat-pack worker Neil Taylor, of Pickup Street, said: "By the time I got home from work they had barricaded the street and there were loads of police at the house across the road.
"I talked to some of my neighbours and there were rumours about what had happened.
"Police were here for about two hours and the whole street was blocked off."
His wife Susan said: "I was gutted I missed it all.
"Nothing like this has ever happened here before."
Police confirmed that no-one was injured in the incident.
No-one at the East Lancashire Box Co, which makes cardboard and plastic containers, would comment.
* A 21-year-old man from Pickup Street was arrested just before 8pm on Wednesday after he walked in to Greenbank Police Station in Blackburn. He was due to be questioned yesterday afternoon.