A PAIR of beat cops have been praised for their swift action after arsonists targeted a well-known East Renfrewshire pub.

The officers were on routine patrol on Sunday night when they spotted smoke coming from The Travellers Rest, in Neilston.

They then alerted the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), who raced to the scene and spent more than six hours bringing the blaze under control.

READ MORE: Neilston pub burns down after 'suspicious' fire​

Detectives have confirmed the fire, which caused thousands of pounds worth of damage and also engulfed two flats, was started deliberately.

A police spokesman added: "About 9.35pm, police officers undertaking routine patrols in the Neilston area observed smoke coming from the disused public house The Travellers Rest, on Neilston Road.

"They immediately contacted the fire service, who attended and extinguished the fire.

"Fire investigation officers attended and were able to conclude that the fire was started deliberately.

"Enquiries are ongoing."

The pub, which was closed for most of last year, was unoccupied at the time of the fire, as were the two flats above.

At the height of the blaze, smoke could be seen from miles around.

Local residents were asked to stay in their homes while crews battled to bring the flames under control.

Anyone who has information about the incident is asked to call the police on 101.