THE CAUSE of a fire that has destroyed a former coaching inn dating back to the 17th century is still unknown. 

The Bridge House Hotel in Catterick Bridge - opposite Catterick Racecourse - was empty when the blaze began shortly after 11pm last night (Wednesday, February 12) as it is currently undergoing renovation.

Six fire crews were called after a series of 999 calls reported flames coming from the roof.

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Initially, appliances were dispatched from Colburn and Bedale at 11.15pm on Wednesday night.

These were quickly increased to six appliances, including two from Northallerton, one from Leyburn, and an appliance and aerial ladder platform from Darlington.

The incident was finally scaled down just before 3am.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said the building, measuring 50m by 30m, suffered extensive damage.

Appliances from Colburn and Northallerton remained at the scene.

This morning (Thursday, February 13) , a fire crew from Leyburn returned to to dampen down smouldering timbers, and police put up a three-way traffic light system to keep vehicles out of the lane nearest the pub after debris from the roof fell into the road.

Police said the continuing traffic measures were as a precaution only.

It is believed some staff members were unaware of the fire until they arrived at work this morning.

A spokeswoman from the fire and rescue service said the cause of the blaze is yet to be determined and an investigation by the fire service and a structural engineer is due to start in the  morning (Friday, February 14).