Police are hunting arsonists who struck at a cocktail bar in Stamford in a mystery attack during the middle of the night.
Emergency services were called to tackle the blaze at Opus Dai, in Broad Street, at about 2.40am yesterday.
Police believe the culprits broke into the premises to set the venue alight.
Staff at nearby businesses were woken by police and forced to flee their premises as a precaution as firefighters dealt with the fire.
It is believed Opus Dai was empty at the time of the attack and no-one was hurt, but both the police and fire service would not confirm this.
A ground floor extension in the bar was damaged, with heat and smoke damage to the remainder of the premises.
Newgates, a minor road which runs between North Street and Broad Street, was cordoned off, as well as part of Elm Street, off Newgates.
Opus Dai was opened in April 2011, by proprietor Jax Singh with his business partner Phil Singh. The Mercury tried to contact the owners without success.
The bar adjoins The Lord Burghley pub and firefighters managed to get into the bar through the pub’s loft.
Jason Veitch, a barman at The Lord Burghley, said: “The first thing I knew about it was when my boss texted me this morning to tell me what had happened. I’m not sure why it would be targeted.
“It won’t affect our business. The pub will still be open.”
Osama abu Zenad, who owns Premier Mobile phone shop opposite Opus Dai, was woken up by police at 3am and told to evacuate his basement flat below the shop.
He was joined by six other workers from nearby businesses who were taken around the corner in Broad Street, where they waited for an hour before being allowed home.
Mr abu Zenad said: “I have only been here for three months and I’m a bit scared.
“There was the break-in at the O2 shop and now the fire at Opus Dai. I have no idea why someone would want to set it on fire.”
The Opus Dai premises are owned by Burghley Estates.
Its director David Pennell said: “We were concerned to find out there had been a fire and we are currently awaiting the outcome of the fire department investigation.”
Despite the door of Stuart Porter Antiques being open yesterday, police have confirmed the incident was not connected to the shop.
Police are appealing for anyone with information to call 101, quoting incident number 20 of October 10.