FIREFIGHTERS have spent hours tackling a town centre pub fire which affected the entire building.

Crew from the town, Wivenhoe, Coggeshall, Brightlingsea, Weeley and Chelmsford were called to the blaze at The King's Arms, in Crouch Street, Colchester at 11am.

On their arrival firefighters reported the third floor of the building was affected by fire and it was spreading to the roof.

The staff had already evacuated the building before the crews arrived.

Sarah Legall, of Crouch Street, said: "The fire caused chaos in the morning and there were lots of fire engines down the road and people watching.

"All I saw were the fire engines and it was not obvious how the fire might have started.

"There was a trickle of smoke coming from the roof and that was all I could see."

An Essex Fire and Rescue spokesman said: "Firefighters worked extremely hard and managed to stop the fire spreading to neighbouring properties.

"The whole building has been affected by the fire.

"The top floors have been fire damaged, and the rest of the building has smoke and water damage."

Crews managed to extinguish the fire at 1.15pm.

The fire service said the blaze was thought to have started in a room on the top floor which is used as a staff and storage area.

A passerby, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was shocked to see there had been a fire at the pub.

He said: "Crowds were gathering around the street which had be cordoned off by the emergency services.

"I don't know how it happened and it was hard to tell if the fire has been put out."

A Kings Arms spokesperson said: “Everyone was evacuated safely from the pub after a fire started in an upstairs storage room this morning.

"We would like to thank fire crews who arrived quickly and prevented the fire spreading further.

"We’re now working with them to understand how it started but expect the pub to be closed for a few days while we assess the damage and make sure it is safe to reopen.”

An investigation is now underway to find the cause of the fire.