OPIUM will be back, bigger and better than ever.
That was the message from club owner Mick Cookson this week after his Accrington nightspot was wrecked in a huge blaze.
Describing the fire as "like a death in the family", Mr Cookson, who has been forced to lay off 40 staff, said: "It's heartbreaking, we can't believe it. Pub landlords have called to say town centre nightlife has been dead this week because Opium's not there.
"It's a horrendous situation but I am not going to let the town down. As soon we are allowed in there we will begin work to fix the club. There's no two ways about it, it might take six months before Opium is open but we will do it."
Fire tore through the popular Willow Street club at 4.30pm last Thursday after an electrical fault.
Fifty firefighters tackled the blaze that raged for five hours and caused gridlock around the town centre. From a mile away columns of thick billowing smoke could be seen over Accrington.
Burnley-based businessman Mr Cookson spoke of his shock on hearing of the fire.
He said: "One day I was there and everything was fine, the next the place is an utter mess. I haven't slept for five days. It's horrific having to let the staff go when we were getting 1,300 people through the doors in November and Christmas is upon us. Now we will miss Christmas which is the best time of year.
"Some people think it's just a business but we took a chance and built it up. It took blood, sweat and tears and it all paid off. I can't explain how upsetting this is for my family. The job ahead is colossal."
Detective Inspector Peter Broome said: "We can confirm the fire was caused by an overloaded electrical circuit and there were no suspicious circumstances."
Hyndburn firefighter, Sub-Officer Gary Ibbotson, said: "We had a total of six pumps at the scene. We had to use two aerial ladder platforms to get up high and fight the fire from above to stop it spreading. The roof and second floor were severely damaged."