A BLAZE that ripped through a Gwent pub and gutted one of its storeys is not thought to be suspicious, police say.

Police and South Wales Fire Service are continuing their investigations into the fire at The George pub in Blackwood's High Street.

A policeman was outside the pub yesterday afternoon while fire investigators and police scenes-of-crime officers examined the site.

But Sergeant Rhydwyn Harris, of Blackwood police station, said: "There is nothing at this stage to suggest anything suspicious. However, our inquiries are continuing."

He added that the blaze is believed to have begun in the main bar area of the pub.

The pub belongs to the Punch Pub Company, and Darren Jenkins, licensee, was at the scene yesterday morning.

He told the Argus that he had been left shocked by the fire.

Mr Jenkins said that nobody was on the premises when the fire broke out and nobody was hurt.

He added: "I am not sure of the extent of the damage yet, and the pub will not be open for the foreseeable future."

The fire began at around 3am yesterday, and several fire appliances from Bargoed, Cefn Fforest and Abercarn were called in to tackle the blaze.

The firefighters also used a hydraulic platform to help them fight the flames.

Several windows in the historic three-storey building are broken and the first floor of the building has been largely gutted.

The fire was finally brought under control at 4.36am.