Terrified families were forced to flee after a mass brawl involving up to 60 youngsters broke out in part of Blackpool.
Riot police and dog units were called to Bank Hey Street to deal with the trouble, which broke out at around 8.30pm on Friday – at the same time the town was packed with families and children who had come to watch the World Fireworks Championships.
Police today confirmed they had received a call about a group of “between 50 and 60” youths, mostly teenagers, involved “in an altercation” and had dealt with an incident of “large scale disorder”.
The incident is believed to have started close to the McDonald’s restaurant in Bank Hey Street.
Today both parents and businesses condemned the trouble, with one claiming there were hundreds of youngsters “running around like animals”.
One parent, from Cleveleys, who contacted The Gazette following the trouble, but asked not to be named, said: “Both my teenage children went to see the fireworks only to be caught up in masses of youths fighting and police telling people to run away.
“My daughter and her friends were very frightened. My daughter is 13 and my son is 16. When I went to pick my daughter up she was really upset. The police were running towards them as they were walking down the street and telling them to run away. They didn’t know what was happening.
“My son was in McDonalds and he said there were people fighting all over the street.
“He said there were people who were troublemakers there and people fighting everywhere. It is absolutely shocking that this was going on when the town was packed with children and families watching the fireworks.”
Wayne Riley, of Blackpool Central Cafe, on Bank Hey Street, described seeing lines of police and hundreds of people when he turned up in the area. “I have never seen anything like it before,” he added.
Another eyewitness, who works for a nearby business, but asked not to be named, said he said between 150-200 young people gathered near McDonalds “running around, swarming the place.”
He added: “This was particularly bad. They were running around like animals and there were skirmishes.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said despite the number of people involved the trouble was quelled when police arrived and just one arrest, of a 19-year-old man on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly, has so far been confirmed.
Despite reports online that the incident had been pre-arranged via social network sites, police could not confirm what had sparked the
incident or whether the trouble had been organised.
A spokesman said: “Police were called on Friday to the report of an altercation between 50-60 youths outside McDonalds on Bank Hey Street.
“Officers attended and diffused the incident.
“A 19-year-old man from Blackpool was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in a public place. He was also given a warning for being in possession of cannabis.”