Police treating Wesley blaze as arson

Aerial drone picture showing the damage after the fire tore through the former Wesley nightclub. Picture: Mark Flounders.
Aerial drone picture showing the damage after the fire tore through the former Wesley nightclub. Picture: Mark Flounders.

Police say they are treating a large fire at The Wesley building in Hartlepool town centre as arson.

Cleveland Police today confirmed they believe the huge blaze to the former Methodist church and nightclub on Saturday night was started deliberately.

Fire crews battle the blaze on Saturday night. Picture: Tom Collins

Fire crews battle the blaze on Saturday night. Picture: Tom Collins

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police told the Mail: "I can confirm that we are treating it as arson."

An investigation was launched on Sunday after police and fire chiefs were able to gain access to the building in Victoria Road.

A structural engineer declared the building safe to enter after an assessment .

Damage to the roof caused it to collapse but the remainder of the building is not believed to have been badly affected.

Dramatic pictures showed the size of the fire and aftermath to The Wesley which has been empty for a number of years.

Flames were seen rising as high as 20 feet from the roof at the height of the blaze which was reported at 8.30pm on Saturday.

No-one is reported to have been hurt in the incident.

The building is owned by Stockton-based development company Jomast which was granted planning permission to convert it into a hotel.