A POLICE investigation is underway this morning after a devastating fire at the Old Swan Inn in Gargrave.

A man in his 50s was taken to hospital in a critical condition yesterday evening and fire crews from several stations spent several hours battling the blaze which left thick, black smoke over the village.

The A65 through the village was closed in both directions from around 6pm to the early hours of this morning. Some nearby properties were evacuated, and residents were advised to close doors and windows due to thick, black smoke.

Firefighters were still at the scene at 7am this morning while police were treating the area as a crime scene.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said an incident at the pub was reported at 5.25pm yesterday (Tuesday) following concerns for the safety of a man aged in his 50s.

"Just before 6pm, police officers noticed a fire inside the pub and a man was seen on the roof of the building.

"Fire crews attended to deal with the blaze and the police tried to engage with the man in an effort to bring him to safety.

"A few nearby properties were temporarily evacuated as a precaution and nearby residents were urged to close doors and windows due to thick black smoke spreading from the fire."

The spokesperson added: "As a further safety measure, the A65 was also closed to traffic with local diversions expected to be in place until the early hours of Wednesday."

The man was located by firefighters on the roof of the pub and brought him down at 6.38pm. He was then taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Fire crews are still at the scene this morning and are being assisted by Northern Gas engineers.

A police investigation has begun to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.

Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101, select option one and speak to the force control room. Use reference number: 12200115385.