A FIRE that ripped through a top restaurant is believed to have been started deliberately.

North Yorkshire Police say they are investigating a serious fire at The Star Inn in Harome and are now appealing for witnesses and information about the incident.

Emergency services were called in just before 10.15pm on Wednesday (November 24).

A police spokesman said: "Following an examination of the scene by police crime scene investigators and fire investigation officers, it is now believed that the fire was started deliberately.

"A number of groups of people were in the area around the time of the fire, and police are urging anyone with information about the incident to contact them.

"Please call North Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference 12210248468, or email peter.day@northyorkshire.police.uk

"You can also pass information to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or go to their website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

"Officers would like to thank members of the local community for their support, assistance and understanding while the emergency services dealt with the fire."

As The Press reported throughout the day yesterday, fire reduced a large part of the Star Inn Harome to ashes.

No one was injured in the fire which ripped through the thatched roof of the fourteenth century building, which was evacuated after the fire broke out shortly after 10pm.

The pub, which also offers a nine-bedroom hotel just opposite, has won numerous awards and its continually praised for its food.