POLICE have launched an arson investigation into the blaze which destroyed a warehouse in Pill, Newport, last week.

A massive fire gutted the building at Old Tredegar Dock, Mill Parade, Pill, on Thursday evening.

Specialist fire investigators joined police scenes-of-crime officers in an investigation on the premises on Friday morning, and Gwent Police later confirmed that they were treating the blaze as suspicious.

Local people who witnessed the fire described seeing flames shooting over 100 feet into the air when a tank in the building, holding 1,500 gallons of diesel, exploded.

The warehouse was in partial use, housing packaging and exporting company Newpack.

Warehouse owner Tony Walsh told us: "It was so frightening. I thought I had lost everything. I don't know what's going to happen - it's too early to say."

Now efforts are being made to relocate the staff of the company.

Pillgwenlly councillor Ron Jones said: "I have spoken to Mr Walsh, as well as Paul Miles, the council's head of economic regeneration, to see if we can arrange to find some alternative accommodation for the staff. I put some proposals forward, and I only hope the council can find them somewhere else to work soon. This is a truly devastating event for all involved."

Councillor Jones said he was hoping to hear from the council sometime this week on whether the employees could be moved.

Fellow Pill councillor, Laura Buchanan-Smith, said: "I'm absolutely appalled by this news.

"I'm most concerned for the people of the area - particularly when I hear about diesel exploding."

Ms Buchanan-Smith reported that she had been alarmed by a rash of recent arson attacks in Newport, some perpetrated by young children.

"I would like to assure everyone that the police are very vigilant about the possibility of arson, and so are councillors," she said.

But Ms Buchanan-Smith pointed out that the warehouse was not sited in an area with a bad reputation.

"It's a very nice, quiet residential area with some very nice people living there," she said.

* In th picture: The fire as it raged.