Police are investigating an arson attack at the Birmingham offices of accountancy firm KPMG early yesterday.
The blaze is thought to have been started by an intruder who smashed through the front door and set fire to an accelerant which he poured into the lobby from a tin.
A smoke alarm was set off and on-site security called the fire brigade before evacuating the eight-storey building.
No one was injured in the attack, reported at about 2.30am yesterday, but damage was caused to the ground floor reception area. The fire did not spread further after a prompt response from the fire service, although the first three floors were heavily smoke-logged.
Mark Hopton, senior partner at KPMG, has vowed not to let the fire disrupt the company’s operations.
“The emergency services were fantastic and contained the fire with the help of our own staff,” he said.
“We have other options around Birmingham so the business should not be too badly affected. We have got plans in place to deal with these scenarios and they seem to be working.
“Many workers are still working remotely at our various clients and we also have another office at Temple Court in Bull Street.
“There won’t be a significant disruption to client services or the business as a whole.”
Staff were expected to return to work at the Cornwall Street office today.
Mr Hopton would not be drawn on whether the fire was deliberately started. “It’s not worth idle speculation,” he said.
“We are a big business. I can’t begin to imagine what could have caused it, whether it be an accident or malicious.”
Officers cordoned off the street in front of the firm’s base in Cornwall Street as a forensic team and West Midlands Fire Service’s investigation team scoured the building for clues which might help trace the perpetrator.