POLICE have launched an appeal after an arson attack at a former Indian restaurant in Ellesmere Port.

Crews were called to the old Agra Fort premises on Cambridge Road shortly after 7.30am today (May 27).

The fire caused "significant damage" to a ground floor extension at the rear of the two-storey building.

An investigation launched into the cause of the blaze concluded that it was started deliberately.

Firefighters spent more than two hours dealing with the incident before passing the matter over to the police.

Inspector Ian Stead, of Ellesmere Port Local Policing Unit, said: “A fire investigator has confirmed that the fire was started deliberately.

“It caused significant damage to a ground floor extension at the back of the building, but the consequences of this incident could have been far worse.

“We believe that people have been going into the extension since the restaurant closed down.

“Thankfully, no-one was inside the building when the fire took hold, no-one was injured as a result of the blaze and firefighters were able to extinguish it before it had chance to spread beyond the extension.

“Fire spreads quickly and can endanger lives as well as properties.

“I would like to reassure members of the community that this is believed to be an isolated incident and we are determined to establish who started the fire and make them face the consequences of their actions.

“Enquiries are ongoing and as part of our investigation we want to speak to anyone who was in the area that morning and witnessed anything suspicious.

“We also want to hear from anyone who thinks they may know who started the fire, or have CCTV or dashcam footage of them.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "Shortly after 7.30am firefighters received reports of a fire at a disused building on Cambridge Road in Ellesmere Port.

"On arrival at the former Indian restaurant crews discovered a fire in a ground floor extension at the back of the two-storey building.

"A search of the premises revealed that no one was inside. Two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus each used a hose reel jet to extinguish the fire.

"Firefighters then damped down the area affected by the fire and looked for hotspots with a thermal imaging camera.

"Once they were satisfied that the building was safe firefighters handed the incident over to the police.

"The fire caused significant damage to the ground floor extension.

"The rest of the building was not damaged by the fire.

"Firefighters were in attendance for around two hours and 15 minutes.

"An investigation into the cause of the fire has been completed.

"The fire is believed to have been started deliberately."

Anyone with information or footage that may help the investigation should call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, quoting IML 714844, give the details via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.