'If that went up the pub would be gone' - Relief after historic inn is saved from fire
PUBLISHED: 17:09 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:45 07 August 2018
The manager of an award-winning Suffolk pub has spoken of his fear as a fast moving fire approached explosive gas cylinders, threatening to destroy the entire building.
Tim Melero praised firefighters’ fast work tackling the blaze, which broke out during a fully-booked Sunday food service at the Fox Inn in Newbourne, near Woodbridge.
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Scores of customers were evacuated from the pub, together with neighbouring households, after a suspected tumble dryer fire spread into the kitchen.
“We ushered everyone out into the car park and then down the road to get well away from the gas cylinder,” Mr Melero said. “Our worst fear was that if that went up the pub would be gone.”
Mr Melero said he “feared the worst” when he saw smoke coming through the front windows of the historic 16th century section of the pub, which has earned the pub its “chocolate box” reputation.
However, firefighters were soon on the scene and quickly contained the blaze to the kitchen.
Although the kitchen has been damaged and much of the main building blackened by smoke, Mr Melero said he hoped to open the bar for drinks as soon as this weekend. Food could also be served within weeks from a mobile kitchen.
He praised staff and customers for their calm evacuation as well as the many well wishers who have been in touch since.
“The reaction has been great,” he said. “We pride ourselves on being a friendly local pub and we’ve been receiving messages all day from people in the village.
“All of the staff have been contacted by customers, first just wanting to make sure everyone is alright and then saying how sorry they were about what’s happened.
“It’s been really fantastic see the amount of support for the pub.
“Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can be welcoming people back inside.”
Mr Melero also thanked Deben Inns, the business that owns the pub, for helping staff find extra shifts at other pubs in the group.
The Fox Inn, which was named Pub of the Year in the East Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2018, held a festival on Friday and Saturday, featuring live music and a barbecue.
With crowds packing the front and rear gardens, Mr Melero said the fire could have had a far more serious outcome had it struck sooner. “We’re just thankful it didn’t happen then,” he said