FIREFIGHTERS discovered a potentially lethal electricity scam following a flat fire in Hollins.

A crew from Hollins Fire Station were called to Hive House at 2.30pm yesterday (Monday) and after putting out a blaze, which started in a mattress in a bedroom and is believed to have been deliberate, they found what they described as an "extremely dangerous" and "potentially lethal" bypassing of the electricity meter.

They spent several hours clearing smoke from all eight flats in the unoccupied building - which is understood to have been in the process of being refurbished - and called in specialists from Electricity North West to make the scene safe.

Green Watch Commander Andrew Turner said the meter had been tampered with by unknown offenders in a bid to access free electricity.

He added: "The electricity meter had been bypassed making it extremely dangerous and had someone gone in the building and used the electricity there's a good chance they would have been electrocuted or killed."

He said Electricity North West and Greater Manchester Police are now investigating.