THIRTY firefighters battled for hours to control a blaze which ripped through an empty village pub in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Fire service investigators believe the blaze, which severely damaged the historic former Poachers Cottage in High Street, Ffrith, may have been arson.

Four fire engines – three from Wrexham and one from Buckley – along with an aerial ladder were called to the scene at 1.15am. They left about six hours later.

Station manager Alan Williams, who was called to investigate the incident, said: “There has been considerable fire, heat and smoke damage to the ground and first floor.

“The worst part of the fire seems to have been in the centre of the building and was less severe at the two extremities.

“The crews who were initially on the scene... stopped the fire spreading. It is fortunate that this is a detached building, so there was no real danger of the fire getting to adjacent properties.”

Ian Williams, of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “When crews arrived at the incident the fire was well established in the ground and first floor. It had also broken through to the roof space. Crews managed to contain the fire to prevent it spreading. It was hard to work under extremely arduous conditions in a small confined area.

“The fire was under control by 4.14am.”

Tracy Arndt, who lives in the cottage just across the road from the pub with her husband and three children, said: “We had gone to bed and the next thing we knew there were people running around outside.

“The police and fire brigade then turned up. We could not see any flames but there was lots of smoke coming from the pub.

“It has been empty for about a year but nothing like this has happened before. Thank God nobody was hurt.”