POLICE are investigating a fire at an empty pub in Torquay town centre.
Fire crews were called to the Alpine Inn in Hillesdon Road, Ellacombe, on Friday night after a report that something was on fire near the empty building.
Torquay watch commander Chris Boston said someone could have been killed in what they believe was a deliberate fire started in an outbuilding under the pub. They later found signs someone had been sleeping there.
One appliance from Torquay was sent to the incident at around 11.30pm.
When they arrived they requested a further appliance to attend, which was mobilised from Paignton.
Crews found a fire in the ground floor area of the disused public house, and got to work using one hose reel jet and thermal imaging camera to check for hot spots. The fire was confined to the storage area.
Commander Boston said: "The pub has been closed for some time but inside there was bedding laid out which means it is being lived in. The lights were on at the front and back. Whoever set this fire was obviously putting people's lives in danger.
"Originally we understood it was a fire in the open, there is a courtyard behind it, and we found the fire was in an open area, like a storage area, underneath the toilets of the building.
"There was no other electrical source there and nothing likely to catch fire. The fire was going quite well when we got there but luckily there was a hydrant nearby and a good supply of water.
"Whoever did this, it was just mindless, they didn't take into account it could have cost someone their life. The building was 60 per cent smoke logged and anyone inside would at least have had a nasty cough."
Police were requested to attend as the incident was believed to be arson.