A BLAZE which "completely destroyed" the roof of a derelict Rubery pub is being treated as arson.

The fire broke out at the former Cock Inn pub on Rubery Lane at around 6.10pm on Tuesday, October 10, and took nearly three hours to extinguish. 

West Midlands Fire Service sent 13 firefighters from three engines to fight back the flames, including two from Northfield and one from Kings Norton.

A fire spokesman said: "The first engine was on the scene within four minutes and the fire was stopped by 9.16pm.

"The roof to the building was completely destroyed by the fire. It is believed to be arson."

Fire services visited the site again at 7am this morning and have now passed investigations onto West Midlands Police. 

Known as the oldest pub in Rubery, the Cock Inn was built in 1811, but has entered a state of disrepair after sitting vacant for the past three years.

The site of the pub is owned by Unique Pub Properties and Malvern Estates Plc, who had an application to knock it down refused by Birmingham City Council in September.

Their proposals, which would have turned the site into eight detached and four semi-detached houses, were resubmitted in January this year, but later withdrawn.

Longbridge councillor for Birmingham City Council Andy Cartwright, whose ward covers Rubery, said it is "distressing" to hear of news of the fire.

He said: "It is deeply distressing how people have put the firefighters at risk and the local community.

"The developers of this site have been great engaging the community, to the point where people had personal emotional memorabilia in the pub and they agreed to return it to their loved ones.

"They have also agreed to do a memory board covering the great heritage of the pub.

"Sadly, due to the structure issues the pub has always been for demolishing, when it was open the complaints from locals to get closed were on a daily basis.

"It is sad a piece of our local heritage is going. What is worse is people believe it was children who started it off. Someone could have easily been hurt."

More to follow.