A FIRE at a pub in Cheadle was started deliberately, it has now been confirmed.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the Royal Oak pub, in High Street, Cheadle, after a blaze broke out inside the building at around 5.30am on Sunday.
After reports that people may have been trapped inside a thorough search of the premises was carried out after the fire had been dealt with, but the reports turned out to be false.
Four pumps from Longton and Cheadle were sent to the blaze at the pub, which closed before Christmas.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is now investigating the cause of the blaze.
A fire service spokesman said: “We received a call at 5.34am and we mobilised crews from Longton and Cheadle.
“Smoke was coming from the first floor of the pub and a request was sent out for a third pump at 5.48am.
“Firefighters gained access to the building using one of their ladders.
“As people were reported to possibly be inside the building, two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the building. A fourth pump was requested.
“The fire was out at 6.45am, and firefighters carried out a full search of the property, but fortunately no people were inside.
“Officers then used a pressure ventilator to ventilate the building.”
Fire investigation officers remained at the scene for much of Sunday morning and police detectives are now appealing for witnesses after it emerged that the fire was started intentionally.
A spokesman said: “Emergency services were called to the vacant Royal Oak Hotel in High Street just after 5am on Sunday 26 January after reports of a fire.
“Surrounding roads were closed by officers as a safety precaution while colleagues from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service extinguished the fire.
“A joint investigation was carried out at the scene by fire investigators and scenes of crime officers.
“It was established the fire was started deliberately and an investigation is ongoing.
“Fortunately, no one was injured during the incident.”
Witnesses, or anyone with information, are asked to contact DC Robert Booth at Staffordshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 169 of January 26.
Alternatively, they can contact independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.