POLICE have confirmed a fire at North Avon Magistrates’ Court in Yate was started deliberately.

The blaze at the court on Kennedy Way is being treated as arson, Avon and Somerset Constabulary told the Gazette this morning.

Flames were spotted at 3.28am. Two crews from Yate Fire Station were quickly on the scene and put out the fire, which only affected the entrance porch and canopy to the building.

A police spokesman said: “It was started deliberately.

“We were informed at 3.35am by the fire service that a fire had started at the front of the court building. Fortunately the fire was quickly extinguished and an arson investigation has begun.”

Avon Fire and Rescue Service spokesman James Bladon said: "The fire just affected the outside of the building.

"Crews then gained entry to check the fire had not travelled inside the building."

No-one was inside the court at the time and no-one was injured.

A court spokeswoman said the court has been closed for all cases today (Thursday, May 22).

The Ministry of Justice told the Gazette the fire was a matter for the police.

A spokesman said today's cases have been adjourned until June 5.

He added: "There are  two magistrates and legal advisors at the court processing 'non hearing' work such as curfew variations, fines and warrants."

It was announced this afternoon that the court will open tomorrow.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area or who has information about the blaze to come forward. Call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.