A FIRE investigation will be carried out after a blaze in an unoccupied house in Colchester.

Firefighters were called to the semi-detached property in Mersea Road at around 4.58am on Saturday morning.

Wearing breathing apparatus firefighters used two hose reels to tackle the fire.

Crews who arrived on scene found 70 per cent of the house was well alight.

Two engines had initially been sent to the scene but at 5.09am, the incident commander requested an additional crew.

Once the fire was out at 5.29am a high pressured fan was used to clear the building of smoke.

Police are appealing for information about the fire which they say is being treated as “suspicious”.

A spokesman said: “Officers were called shortly after 4.50am today after reports that an intruder had been seen at the unoccupied property in the road.

“A man was then seen to run off into a nearby field and shortly afterwards flames were spotted coming from the property.

“Due to the man's activity in the area, prior to the fire, police are treating the incident as suspicious.”

The man was wearing a black hooded top, carrying a ruck sack and was heard to speak with a northern accent.

Anyone with information is asked to call DC Mark Peacock at Colchester CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.