ARSONISTS are to blame for setting alight a historic Wrexham village pub.

The grade II listed Dymock Arms has been left devastated by the blaze.

Neighbours were woken by a “crackling” sound at about 2.30am yesterday and saw the flames engulfing the whole pub.

Wrexham Station manager John Berry spoke to the Leader at the scene in Penley and said the fire was on the ground floor, first floor and in the roof.

Nobody was in the pub, which is opposite the Maelor School, at the time.

A spokeswoman from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “It was deliberate ignition.

“There was 60 per cent fire damage to the building and the rest was water and smoke damage.”

Two fire engines from Wrexham, one from Ellesmere and one from Whitchuch were at the scene as well as the aerial ladder platform which allowed firefighters to douse the blaze from above.

“It was fought with two main jets and a main jet from the aerial unit,” said Mr Berry, who has worked as a firefighter for 31 years.

“It was a very serious building fire and it has done a lot of structural damage.

“It took about two hours to put out.”

Parts of the pub have been left without the roof and some of the timber frame has been destroyed.

Firefighters confirmed the fire had been deliberately started.

“It is a very, very old building,” said Mr Berry.

It is understood the pub is owned by Stephen Murphy from Stoke-on-Trent who has been the proprietor for seven years. He carried out a complete renovation of the pub in recent years.

The pub’s history dates back to the 16th century and in 1843 took on the name of Dymock.

Alan Jacobs, who lives next door to the pub and was the landlord between 1970 and 1990, was woken up by the crackling of the flames.

He said: “At first I thought it was a bonfire, I could hear crackling and the beams burning.

“It was dramatic. You could feel the heat.

“The roof was well alight and sparks were coming towards our house, I was worried about that.

“I have never seen anything like it before, it was that fierce.

“The main thing is that no-one was in there.

He added: “It was a wonderful local pub but like all pubs it’s had difficulties.”

His wife Ann added: “It was very upsetting.”

Firefighters remained at the scene to dampen down until 11am yesterday and police and fire officers carried out investigations as to the cause of the blaze.

Senior fire safety manager Richard Fairhead said: “There was a serious possibility that the fire could have developed unnoticed putting lives of the public and the firefighters at risk.

“As it was, this reckless act tied up life saving resources, putting the lives of other people at risk.

“Perpetrators of incidents like this are destroying their own communities.

“I am appealing to all members of the community to report the perpetrators of deliberate fires, and for deliberate fire starters to think about the consequences of their actions.

“Arson is a serious crime and in conjunction with North Wales Police we will pursue prosecutions.”

A spokesman from North Wales Police said: “We were called out at 2.44am. The fire is under investigation.”

Anyone with information about the blaze is asked to call 0845 607 1002 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.