YOUNGSTERS have been warned to stay away from Platt's Lodge in Accrington after a five-year-old boy became stuck in the muddy bed of the drained lodge.
Kuda Chingwaro, of Nelson Street, a pupil at St Anne's and St Joseph's RC Primary School, was playing with friends on Saturday afternoon when he chased a duck into the lodge, got stuck in the mud and sank to his knees.
The firefighter who rescued him said he was lucky to have survived the incident, the second since the Hyndburn Council-owned lodge, to the rear of Scaitcliffe House, was drained while a cycle bridge is built over it.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe has now joined forces with the fire service and contractors the Eric Wright Group to appeal to people to stay away from the lodge.
Watch manager Phil Whittaker, who freed Kuda, said: "The young lad was playing with some friends at the back of the council offices, where they have drained the old mill lodge to build the cycleway. It's a quagmire of thick, sticky mud.
"They were chasing a couple of ducks into the mud and the boy had sunk down to his knees. Some of his friends tried to pull him out but the suction was like quicksand. They raised the alarm and rang for our assistance.
"We turned up and the lad was five or six metres out. We had to improvise because we used to have a duckboard in Accrington but now the Incident Support Unit has gone we were waiting for equipment from Preston.
"There are big blocks of stone around the edge of the lodge and we put them around him to give us a bit of hard standing. It took quite a pull to get him out but I just grabbed his arm and pulled.
"I think that unless they fill the lodge up pretty soon there should be high fences around it to stop people going into the mud. It's a bit of a haven for children to play and Saturday was quite a dry day. In wetter weather it could be even more dangerous.
"This boy had a very lucky escape. He could have died."
Councillor Britcliffe said: "Thank goodness this little boy is OK. All lodges are dangerous and Platt's Lodge is as dangerous when it is empty as when it is full, because of the mud. I would appeal to parents to keep their children away from the area."
A spokesman for the Eric Wright Group said: "We take security very seriously and we were concerned to learn that a child had gained entry into Platt's Lodge.
"We have conducted a thorough investigation into the incident and are confident that the public footpath was safe at the time. Building sites are not playgrounds and although no-one was hurt in this instance, we cannot stress how important it is for children to stay off them to avoid getting hurt."
A dog walker had to be rescued from the lodge last November after sinking up to his waist in mud.