An arsonist could have been behind a fire that destroyed a shelter for Ukrainian refugees on Germany’s Baltic Coast, a German government official has suggested.

Mecklenburg-Pomerania state governor Manuela Schwesig warned that any kind of violence towards people fleeing war would not be tolerated.

The 14 residents and three employees who lived in the shelter were rescued from the flames when the former hotel in the north-eastern state burned down on Wednesday night, local police said.

Nobody was injured, and the refugees were taken to other shelters, according to authorities.

Ms Schwesig said: “One thing must be clear to everyone: People fleeing war need our protection and support. We do not tolerate incitement and violence.”

Police investigating the cause of the fire were looking into possible arson, German news agency dpa reported.

On Monday, police received a report of graffiti depicting a Nazi swastika in the entrance area of the shelter. Whether the graffiti was connected to the fire is not yet known, police said.

More than a million refugees from Ukraine, most of them women and children, went to Germany seeking protection since Russia invaded their country almost eight months ago.

The refugees initially were welcomed with warmth, and many German families opened their homes to shelter them.

However, a vocal minority has expressed hostility toward them and other foreigners arriving in the country.