Fire chiefs have started an investigation into the cause of a roof blaze at a £5.7 million new building at the University of Bradford.

Crews from Bradford and Odsal were called to the university’s Sustainable Enterprise Centre after staff spotted flames at the top of the building, which is under construction.

A West Yorkshire Fire Service spokesman said the building’s timber structure and cladding meant the fire spread quickly and affected the integrity of scaffolding around the site as firefighters worked to tackle the blaze.

“When we got to the top we could see the fire developing pretty quickly. We managed to get water on it really quickly, but if we hadn’t it really would have taken,” he said.

Steve Wiggins, fire safety officer at the University of Bradford, said yesterday the fire had been spotted at its ‘very early stages’ by a member of university security staff who was on patrol at about 9.30pm on Tuesday.

A passer-by described the blaze as ‘quite intense’, although it was put out by about 10pm.

“The fire was quickly extinguished and at this stage we do not know the cause of the fire,” Mr Wiggins said.

“The fire investigating officer will begin work on this today.”

The Sustainable Enterprise Centre, which has attracted £2.7 million of investment from the European Regional Development Fund as well as funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the University of Bradford, is due to open in May.

It will provide a base for businesses to start up and transfer knowledge, offer ten research centres and house 100 academic experts, and will include an in-house team to support and develop proposals into business ideas.

Mr Wiggins said: The centre will house a new range of academic and educational sustainability activities that will draw on university-wide strengths around sustainable enterprise.”