Suspected arson at The Countess's Arms near Newport as investigators find three fires may have been started deliberately
Three fires were started deliberately in and around The Countess's Arms near Newport to start a blaze that destroyed the once popular pub, it is believed.
Police officers said the disused building had been targeted in a suspected arson attack, and that an investigation had now been launched to find the culprit.
Sixty firefighters tackled the fire in the early hours of Monday morning. The building was so dangerous that crews had to fight it from the outside, firing blasts of water through the destroyed roof.
It is thought the fire was started at some point after 2am, and that it had burned for some time before a call was made by a passer-by driving along the A41. They called 999 at about 3.50am.
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There were no reported injuries in the fire.
PC Tony Smith said: "An investigation has been launched and officers have been carrying out local enquiries.
"If anyone witnessed the incident which we believe occurred between 2am and 4.30am, has any information or may have dash cam footage running in their vehicle at the time of driving past the pub which is on the A41 just south of Newport, please call West Mercia Police."
The A41 was closed for more than three hours while firefighters tried to take back control of the blaze.
The rural position of the pub meant crews had to set up a long pipe system along the A41 to ensure there was enough water to tackle the fire.
The first neighbours knew about the fire was when they woke up and found there was no water pressure in their homes. They said there was no line of sight with the pub, but that they occasionally heard people in the area.
At the fire's height, there were 11 fire crews at the scene and flames and smoke could be seen for miles around.
Firefighters on the scene said rural, derelict pubs were often vulnerable.
Incident Commander Tony Druce said: "There's no fire detection, there's no power to the building – you don't get the early warnings. You're relying on people passing to put the call in."
Anybody with information is asked to to call West Mercia Police on 101, citing incident number 55s of August 12.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org
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