A house fire in Hurstpierpoint which occured in the early hours of Saturday morning (December 17) is being treated as arson, police have confirmed.
Emergency services were called to the fire after 1am in Willow Way after reports that the property was on fire and it was feared people might be trapped, police said.
Firefighters entered the three-bedroom, end-of-terrace building but found it empty.
It is understood the house may have been empty for a while, police said.
Firefighters were able to put out the blaze, but significant damage was caused to the interior, a spokesman from Sussex Police confirmed.
Police soon discovered that there had been a forced entry at the rear of the property and consequently the incident is being investigated as arson, the spokesman said.
A spokeswoman from WSFRS confirmed three fire engines attended the house blaze, from Henfield, Brighton and Burgess Hill.
She added: “The ground floor of the house had 100 per cent smoke damage and the first floor had 100 per cent heat and smoke damage.
“The fire is believed to have been deliberate ignition and no one was hurt.”
Police are appealing for witnesses or information concerning the house fire.
Detective Sergeant Karrie Bohanna, from the Crawley investigations hub, said: “It was fortunate that the house was unoccupied at the time and therefore thankfully no one was hurt.
“Neighbours were alerted to the fire by members of the public and I would like to trace those people and speak to them about what they may have seen or heard.
“I would also like to hear from anyone else who may have noticed anything suspicious or who may have other information about what is an extremely concerning incident.
Anyone with information can contact police online at https://sussex.police.uk/contact-us/response-to-appeal/ quoting serial 97 of 17/12.
Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (www.crimestoppers-uk.org).
Have you checked out our new Christmas section yet?
It’s packed with ideas and tips to ensure you make the most out of the festive season.
There’s recipes, suggestions for presents and everything from choosing your tree to recycling your packaging and paper.