Firefighters spent last night tackling a large fire at the derelict Four Winds pub in Falmouth.

Large crowds gathered around midnight to see fire, with a large plume of smoke in the air above the town.

Firefighters were called to the closed pub on Dracaena Avenue just after 11pm, and there were more than 40 firefighters with at least half a dozen engines on site.

Group manager Andy Barrett, the officer in command at the scene, told the Packet just after midnight: "We are confining it to the building and isolating all the utilities.

"There's a large plume of smoke over Falmouth and it is best for people to keep all windows and doors shut.

"There are about six [fire] stations from the west of Cornwall here."

He added that as far as the fire brigade was aware, no-one was inside the building at the time of the fire, but added that had yet to be confirmed.

At around 3am the fire service reported that it was scaling down the operation except for two pumps and an aerial ladder platform, and said that after 4pm one relief pump would remain on scene for monitoring.

A fire service spokesperson said: "A fire investigation officer will be attending in the daylight hours."

Group manager Justin Sharp, a fire investigation officer from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service who was at the scene on Tuesday morning, said:

"The firefighting operation was to try and protect the property [nearby] and control the fire and get it extinguished."

He said firefighters had tried to ascertain if anybody was in the building, as they had been told that it was "used by homeless people" and "young children were seen in the area," but he said :"We have no firm indication that there's anyone inside the property now."

He added that after the possibility of there being somebody inside, the main concern was the structure of the building and if it would collapse on crews, as well as LPG cylinders inside the building, which could explode, meaning the fire was fought from the outside only.

The site is currently subject to a planning application, which is yet to be decided by Cornwall Council.