An investigation was under way today after part of a landmark pub was destroyed in a suspected arson attack.
The blaze at The Neachells in Wolverhampton broke out in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Fire crews were called to the venue which on the corner of Neachells Lane and Willenhall Road in the city at around 2am.
It is believed an intruder broke into the pub and set fire to the premises with the main part of the blaze on the first floor of the derelict building.
Around 80 per cent of that floor was damaged in the fire, leading to part of it collapsing. In total 20 firefighters were drafted in to tackle the blaze which was eventually extinguished just after 3.30am. Watch commander David Hodgkinson of Fallings Park Fire Station said: “ It seems someone has broken into the property and started the fire on the first floor.
“Eighty per cent of the first floor was damaged which has led to its collapse. It is suspected to be arson but we are still investigating the cause of the fire.” One 40-year-old man, who lives close to the blaze but didn’t wished to be named, was woken by firefighters trying to gain access to the pub.
He said: “I went to my window and I could see the firefighters smashing the door. I couldn’t see any flames but a lot of smoke coming from the windows.
“It wasn’t even a year ago it was open and it was being used then this happens. It’s a shame that it has become an eyesore. It needs something doing to it because people are just vandalising it and it’s not a good image for the area.”
The Neachells shut suddenly last June just weeks after its car park was the scene of an attack where a 53-year-old man was left in hospital with a serious head injury.