POLICE are hunting masked raiders who sparked a blaze which gutted a Burton post office during a botched burglary.
A major investigation is under way to track down two men who triggered the fire at Branston Post Office in Main Street, which raged for more than two hours early yesterday.
Twenty-five firefighters, four fire engines and half a dozen police cars attended the incident at just after 2.30am.
It is believed that the sub-postmaster disturbed the pair as they were trying to force their way into a cash machine using an unnamed device.
A fire quickly broke out and spread through the property causing the occupants and the thieves to flee from the scene.
Chief Inspector Steve Maskrey, commander of the East Staffordshire local policing team, told the Mail: "Some nearby paper then set alight with the blaze quickly spreading.
"We are looking at whether this incident is linked with two similar ones that have taken place in other areas of the county.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "Crews from Burton, Uttoxeter, Tutbury and Barton under Needwood were called to the incident along with the targeted response vehicle from Burton.
"They arrived at 2.33am and the last crew returned to the station at 4.38am.
"No-one was hurt during the incident and the cause is currently under investigation."
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: "I got up and looked out the window and saw people with a crowbar trying to get into the post office. I called 999 and ran down and saw them coming out."