THREE families were forced to evacuate their homes after an arson attack on a neighbouring property.
The house was set alight a fortnight after it had been raided by police as part of a bid to disrupt organised crime.
Fire crews were called to an end-of-terrace house in Marsden Street, Accrington, in the early hours of Monday as flames ripped through the roof, engulfing parts of a neighbouring property and filling two more homes with smoke.
The gutted house was empty when it was attacked and detectives are now probing whether the arson attack was linked to a drugs raid two weeks ago, which was part of a police crackdown codenamed Operation Protecting People.
Eight people were arrested in Hyndburn but no arrests were made in Marsden Street and no drugs were found in the house.
Firefighters were called to the blaze after a couple in a neighbouring house were disturbed by banging and a smell of smoke.
Ahsan Zaman, one of the residents who was evacuated, said: "I didn’t know anything about the fire until the Fire Brigade came banging on my door.
"The fire looked really fierce and they were asking us to move our cars to let the fire engines get better access to the area. The whole incident was very scary."
Other families had to wake sleeping children before fleeing.
Four fire engines, three from Accrington and one from Great Harwood as well as an aerial ladder platform, were needed to put out the blaze that was still smouldering at 10am.
The house, which is owned by rental company Sterling, suffered 100 per cent damage to its roof as well as severe heat and smoke damage to the stairs and hall.
The tenant is believed to have recently left the area.
Steven Kay, manager of Sterling Properties, said: "We will look at the damage and plan the quickest way of making the house habitable again."
A police spokesman said: "There is an ongoing investigation into the suspicious nature of the fire.
"The house was raided as part of Operation Protecting People and at this stage nothing is being ruled out."