A FORMER town hall had to be evacuated after a portable heater caught fire and it became smoke-logged.
More than 20 employees were forced to leave their desks after the blaze broke out at Hindley Council Offices on Cross Street just after 9.30am on Monday.
Fire crews arrived and found a heater on fire in a ground-floor office and around half of that level of the building filled with thick smoke.
Firefighters were hampered by being unable to get any of the windows open after extinguishing the flames and had to use a large fan to slowly draw all the smoke out of the building.
The blaze caused damage to the heater and carpet as well as to nearby skirting boards and walls.
Mike Wilding, watch manager at Hindley fire station, said: “When we arrived there had been a full evacuation which was good to see. There were between 20 and 30 people waiting outside and the fire marshals did a good job of getting everybody out.
“The heater was on fire so it must have had a fault, but around half the ground floor was badly smoke-logged and the windows didn’t open which made it really difficult to get it all out.
“We had to make sure all the smoke was out of the building before anyone could be let back in and using the fan meant it took a while.”
The crew spent around an hour dealing with the incident and left the management team in charge of the building.