TEN chickens were burned alive during a suspected arson attack on an allotment in Oswaldtwistle.
Crews from Hyndburn Fire Station were called to Heys Lane early on Sunday and found at least eight allotment cabins ablaze. They pumped water from nearby Fielding Lane to tackle the flames, but the sheds were burned to the ground.
Two young cats were also reported to be inside one of the sheds, but only one was found. It was taken to a vet for treatment and was recovering this week.
Fire officers said they believed the blaze, which happened at around 4.30am, was started deliberately and police have been called in to investigate.
A friend of the allotment holder said he had been looking after the chickens for the owner and was horrified by the attack.
The man, who did not want to be named, said: "I am absolutely disgusted by what has happened. They burned those animals alive.
"There were two young cats inside and we've only managed to find one of them - the other is still missing. The cat we found was half-dead but we were able to take it to a vet and it is recovering now."
Station officer John Pinner, of Hyndburn Fire Station, said: "We are treating the fire as deliberate. The high winds meant it spread quickly from one shed to the next."
DS Mark Lee, of Accrington CID, said: "The sheds were quite out of the way and not visible from the road. We are going to put extra police patrols on in the area and we are appealing for witnesses to come forward."