Vandals are suspected to have started a large fire which severely damaged the Northamptonshire Association for the Blind (NAB) building in Northampton.
Firefighters were called to Wardington Court in Welford Road shortly after 1am following reports that a large blaze had started in the building.
Stefanie Weldon, marketing manager of NAB, said early indications suggested that vandals had got into the building and started the fire which has caused extensive damage to the roof and first floor of the premises.
Ms Weldon said she was glad the blaze was quickly extinguished by firefighters and did not spread to the nearby flats where blind and partially-sighted residents still live.
Ms Weldon said: “We are all very shocked as we were based at the site for a long time and had no problems of this kind.
“Although we did suffer from vandalism in the last year we were there. I believe it is vandals that have got in and started the fire.
“The building was due to be demolished so I don’t know what that means for building work that was due to happen.
“We are really glad the residents are safe and hope the culprits of the fire are found soon.”
The NAB building, which was built in about 1860, is currently being converted into 41 one-bedroom and 17 two- bedroom apartments for elderly people. The work is being carried out by McCarthy & Stone and part of the building was due to be demolished.
A section of the Welford Road which was closed due to the fire is now reopen to traffic.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire Fire Service said the blaze had now been extinguished and a investigation into the cause for the fire was due to begin today.