Wythenshawe Hall
More than 50 firefighters attended the 'serious blaze' at Wythenshawe Hall, which was built in 1540 Getty

Police have said they are treating the "devastating" fire at the historic Wythenshawe Hall in Greater Manchester as suspicious. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) were called to the timber-framed museum and art gallery in the early hours on 15 March after a blaze broke out in the roof.

Around 10 fire engine and 50 firefighters were deployed to attempt to put out the fire at the building in Wythenshawe Park in south Manchester. No one was reported injured in the fire, but the building, which was built in 1540, suffered extensive damage to the roof and first floor.

Area Manager Warren Pickstone from GMFRS, who was in charge of the incident at its height, said the fire was eventually brought under control after several hours. He said: "This blaze has caused devastating damage to a historic building, but the quick actions of our crew have saved the majority of the structure.

"The fire was well developed when they arrived and firefighters did a fantastic job to stop it spreading through the timbers and voids in the property. We will work closely with Manchester City Council and The Friends of Wythenshawe Hall to help them recover from this terrible fire."

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the fire is now being treated as suspicious and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Inspector Luke Breakspear of GMP's South Manchester division said: "The investigation into how this fire began is in its infancy, however we are now treating it as suspicious.

"We are appealing for anyone who may have any information or may have seen anyone in the area in the early hours of this morning to come forward. This is a devastating fire in a beautiful building and we are determined to get to the bottom of how this could have happened.

"Luckily, no one was injured, but the damage to the building and its contents will have a lasting impact on the community, and those who dedicated their lives to Wythenshawe Hall."

Wythenshawe Hall fire
The roof of the building was badly damaged in the fire Getty

Councillor Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said: "This is an upsetting incident involving a much-loved historic building at the heart of its community. We are currently still taking stock of the damage but will all need to rally together in an effort to restore the hall.

"I'd like to pay tribute to the firefighters who have battled through the night to limit the damage and thank Wythenshawe people and Mancunians in general for the messages of support we've already had."

Anybody with information should contact police on 0161 856 4882, 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.