THIRTY firefighters tackled a massive blaze at an Indian restaurant early today (fri).
Crews from six fire stations raced to the scene of the fire at the Madras Cottage, Whitburn, West Lothian.
Once the blaze was finally brought under control, specially-trained sniffer dogs were brought in to establish whether the fire was deliberate or accidental.
The fire broke out at around 4am and involved crews from Whitburn, Bathgate, Livingston, Newcraighall and Liberton. Sighthill fire station in Edinburgh sent a fire engine with a turntable ladder.
Fire crews had to gain access to the restaurant through a roof.
No people were inside the building but it is thought that the flames may have spread to a flat above the restaurant.
East and West Main Street and Armadale Road in Whitburn were closed for several hours but have since re-opened.
The blaze was brought under control after three hours.
At that point, the fire dog unit from Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service was deployed along with fire investigation teams to investigate the cause.
A spokeswoman from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said: “When the crews arrived the building was well alight.
“The fire started in the rear kitchen of the restaurant. There has been no message of anybody being inside the building.”
Central Scotland Fire and Rescue is the only fire service to have a dedicated canine investigation team.
Five-year-old Springer Spaniel Mitch and seven-year-old collie Jay are specially trained to sniff out chemical accelerants used to start fires and have been working with Central Scotland Fire and Rescue for the last few years.
Along with their handler Trevor Lynch, the dogs help to significantly reduce the time and money spent on investigating deliberate fires.
The evidence the dogs find is inadmissible in court and samples have to go to a forensic lab in Edinburgh or Dundee to be verified but the work the dogs do speeds up the process of detecting willful fires.
They are brought in if a fire investigator thinks a fire may be suspicious but cannot see any immediate cause for the fire.
Police later confirmed they were treating the fire as suspicious.
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “We want to speak to anyone who was in the area of East Main Street in Whitburn in the early hours of this morning, who noticed any suspicious activity there.
“Anyone else who has any other information that can assist our inquiries should also get in touch.”