Men ram-raid Trentham Natwest then set vehicle alight in failed robbery
Masked men ram-raided a bank in Stoke-on-Trent before setting their vehicle on fire and fleeing.
Police said three or four masked men drove a green flat-back truck into Natwest on Longton Road, in Trentham, but fled empty-handed.
After setting the vehicle on fire, they fled in a Vauxhall Vectra and later abandoned it, also setting it on fire.
Officers are now searching for the offenders and have been using the force helicopter.
Eye-witnesses told BBC Radio Stoke they saw "massive flames and smoke" coming from the truck and thought the bank was on fire.
Several roads in the area which were closed while fire crews dealt with the incident have now reopened.
Staffordshire Police said the men had crashed the silver Vectra into a Royal Mail van and were forced to abandon it on Barlaston Road.
They then stole a blue Peugeot 205 from a woman who was sitting in stationary traffic.
The Peugeot was also found abandoned in woods on Chivelstone Grove, where police said they were continuing their search.
Det Ch Insp Dave Giles, who is leading the investigation, said all three vehicles were being examined by forensics officers.
He said: "Fortunately, no-one has been injured and the offenders did not get away with any cash from the bank, but have caused extensive damage in their attempt to do so.
"Scenes of crime officers are carrying out a detailed examination of the scene, and a team of officers are collating witness statements and studying CCTV footage from the locality."