FLAMES and smoke were seen billowing into the air in the early hours of Wednesday.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) crews were on the scene for several hours after a fire broke out at a derelict property near Valentia Road.

A spokesman for RBFRS said: "Crews from Caversham Road, Wokingham Road, Dee Road, Whitley Wood, Wokingham, Bracknell, Newbury, Slough, Langley and Windsor Fire Stations were sent to the scene alongside the Aerial Ladder Platform from Whitley Wood.

"Crews from Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service were also sent to the scene.

"Upon arrival, crews found an unoccupied building roof on fire.

"Six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used three jets and two hose reels to extinguish the fire.

"Crews were on the scene for approximately five hours and 10 minutes."

Investigating officers now believe the fire was started deliberately and the incident is being treated as arson.

One eye-witness said: "The smoke could be seen from two blocks away and that was before the second fire engine got there.

"I did not realise it was apartment buildings until I walked past this morning.

"I hope nobody got hurt. The fire brigade was still there today at 7.30am."

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police added: "An investigation began to establish the cause of the fire and it is suspected to be arson.

"Further enquiries are being made by police and the investigation is ongoing.

"Anyone who has any information which could assist our investigation should contact our 24-hour enquiry centre on 101."