FIRE crews have called for action to make a derelict pub secure after arsonists targeted it for the fourth time in a month.

Three fire crews tackled the blaze at the Queen's Head, in Haverton Hill, Billingham, in the early hours of yesterday.

Crews from Billingham and Stockton fought to bring the blaze under control. The fire severely damaged the roof of the building.

Fire crews said each arson attack on the pub was making the structure less secure and putting firefighters at risk.

Colin Ede, crew manager at Billingham fire station, said: "Every time we go back we have to carry out a risk assessment, which means us checking the premises to see if there is anyone inside.

"The more fire damage there is, the bigger the danger that part of the structure will come down. This leaves our men at risk."

Mr Ede said measures to make the pub secure were failing to keep vandals out.

He said under new laws, the owners of the building could be liable if they did not make the building fully secure.

Cleveland Fire Brigade's arson task force is in discussion with the council about what steps to take next.

"The bottom line is safety," said Mr Ede.

"The longer it is left as it is, the bigger the risk is that someone could be seriously hurt."