Two teenage boys aged 15 and 13 have been arrested on suspicion of starting a fire which devastated a bungalow in Exeter.
Police have been investigating the blaze which tore through the roof of the property on Monday.
They have now confirmed that two boys have been arrested and released pending further investigation.
Detectives are appealing for witnesses, particularly anyone who has CCTV of the area that covers the Whipton Village area.
Six fire engines were sent to the scene near the Half Moon pub at 11am. They were alerted by neighbours and passers by who noticed smoke and flames rising from the roof of the sing-storey property.
Witnesses told DevonLive there were initial fears that somebody was inside the building. The fire commander later confirmed the house was empty at the time and nobody was hurt.
One witness, 24-year-old Chloe Willis, said: “I was in the house and could smell smoke. It was about 9am. I thought nothing of it, thinking it was somebody burning something. A while later I opened the curtains and there was smoke everywhere, it was black. I could hear the sirens at about 11am.
“I went outside to have a nosey around and there was smoke everywhere.”
(Image: Peter Dunn)
Another witness, who did not want to be named said: “My mum and I went straight round the back to see if we could see anyone inside. It was me, mum and about five other men who were trying to help.
“We could hear a door being kicked in, but the smoke was so thick and black we couldn’t see a thing. It got hotter and we had to just get away, we couldn’t breathe.”
Pete Watts, station manager for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service said: “On arrival crew found that the bungalow was engulfed in flame mainly in the roof space and the ground floor.
“Further appliances have come from as far as Newton Abbot and Teignmouth. The fire is now under control and we are now taking steps to identify the cause. The bungalow is fully involved, roof and ground floor. A serious fire has taken place. The occupants aren’t at home and we are now doing an investigation to discover the extent.”
In the aftermath of the blaze fire crews could not confirm how it had started. Police and security guards remained at the scene on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Police say anyone who has any information or CCTV that covers the Whipton Village area near or around the property that was destroyed by the fire, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org quoting crime reference CR/089225/19.