DETECTIVES are hunting an arsonist who torched a Bradford pub in the middle of the night, forcing a family to flee for their lives.

Landlord Raj Chumber and his wife were asleep when one of their sons spotted the blaze at the Bradford Arms, Bowling Back Lane, at about 4.30am on Sunday.

Mr Chumber, who lives above the pub with his wife and two sons, aged 27 and 20, described the incident – which has badly damaged the pub building throughout – as upsetting and distressing.

The fire was confined to a room at the rear of the pub, adjoining the bar, but caused smoke damage throughout the building’s two floors.

“My son was up watching TV late,” said Mr Chumber. “Me and my wife were asleep.

“My son heard a bang and saw flames coming from the bottom window as he looked out of the top window.

“He shouted that the pub was on fire.

“I thought it would be a little fire and that I would sort it myself.

“But when I came downstairs, the whole bar and one room was burning. It was hot – it was all burning.

“I ran upstairs to put trousers and my cardigan on and my son was on the phone to the fire brigade.”

Mr Chumber said the pub had been open earlier that night.

He added: “I am distressed. It is upsetting.

“All the smoke damage upstairs, all our clothes smell of smoke so we have nothing to wear. Everything is black.”

Thieves have also broken into the pub since the fire and ransacked a fruit machine and pool table.

Mr Chumber and his family have had to move out of the pub because of the fire.

One customer said yesterday: “That is another pub gone.”

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said officers were investigating the fire as arson with intent to endanger life.

He added: “It is believed to have happened at about 4.30am on January 8.

“Anyone who saw any suspicious activity is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, quoting the crime reference number 13170010769.”

Bradford and Odsal crews tackled the fire.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “Around 50 per cent of the ground floor has been destroyed.”