A POLICE investigation has been launched after a suspected arson attack at a library.

Firefighters from Southend fire station rushed to Southchurch Library on Tuesday evening, where it appeared a window had been smashed before a lit toilet roll set light to a shelf of books.

Essex Police has now launched a probe into the incident at the library in Lifstan Way, Southend.

A spokesman for the force said: “At the scene we found a window had been damaged and a small fire had caused smoke damage to the property.”

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact the police quoting incident number 1327 of May 7.

Punters at the nearby Old Walnut Tree pub raised the alarm after spotting the flames and helped to put it out by pouring water through the smashed window before firefighters arrived.

After the blaze, Ben Manning, watch manager at Southend fire station, said: “It looks as though someone had smashed the window and set light to a toilet roll, which had then set light to a shelf of books.

“Thankfully the fire didn't spread any further but unfortunately the building has been left with some water and smoke damage as well as the broken window.”

Southend Council hopes to re-open the library next Thursday after minor repair and cleaning works are completed.