A CANNABIS factory may have caused a fire which destroyed a new Widnes nightclub as it was about to open, creating 15 jobs.
A blaze broke out above Selfie’s in Victoria Road, causing a ceiling to collapse on top of the newly refurbished £30,000 bar.
Fifty cannabis plants were discovered on the second floor of the building as crews tackled the incident.
The premises where the cannabis was found is separate to Selfie's nightclub.
A Cheshire Police spokesman said: “Police and fire are looking at the strong possibility that the fire was caused by the cultivation equipment used for the cannabis plants.”
The nightclub owner has vowed to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
Speaking exclusively to the World, a spokesman for JRJ Promotions Limited, who own Selfie’s, said: “We are extremely disappointed. We are victims. We had invested a lot of time and effort to bring something new to Widnes.
“We had completely refurbished the premises with a new sound and lighting system and a new dance stage.
“Our name had generated a lot of interest.
“It is extremely frustrating but we are determined to find a recovery plan. Too many jobs are on the line and too much finance is at stake.
“We will have big screens so people can post selfies through twitter.”
He said the building’s insurance assessors are examing the damage and may have to carry out a structural survey.
Eight fire appliances fought the blaze shortly after 10.30am on Thursday, May 29.
Neighbouring premises were evacuated, streets were closed and residents advised to keep doors and windows closed as crews fought the flames.
The fire damaged both upper levels of the building and the nightclub. No-one was injured.
Officer in charge Tony O’Dwyer said: “It was a challenging incident as there were only a few openings on the upper floors.
“Crews did a sterling effort. We had to make openings to allow smoke to escape. It is an old Victorian style building.
“We are still investigating the cause of the fire.”
Crews remained at the scene until 9pm.
It is the second setback to hit Selfie’s after its original opening on May 23 had to be cancelled after the building’s former owners, BBs’ parent company went into liquidation invalidating the premises’ licence.
Selfie’s had applied for a new licence and was expecting to open in a few weeks.
Anyone with information about the fire or the cannabis plants can contact Cheshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.