Landlord of North Devon pub used cushion to stop chimney fire spreading
A landlord has told how he stopped a chimney fire spreading to the thatched roof of his pub – by shoving a cushion up the chimney.
Richard Lawrence, landlord of The Old Smithy Inn in Welcombe, had to evacuate customers from the premises mid-way through a quiz night when flames started billowing from the chimney.
About 20 people went outside while Mr Lawrence called the fire service at around 7.20pm last Thursday.
Mr Lawrence doused a cushion in water and shoved it up the chimney using a broom in an attempt to starve the fire of oxygen until firefighters arrived.
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He said: “It was quite scary. It was a fairly sizeable chimney fire. It looked pretty dramatic, especially because it was so dark outside.
“You could see roaring flames out the top of the chimney.
“Fortunately nothing burnt down and we managed to nip it in the bud.”
Fire crews from Hartland and Bude were called to the fire, but it was already out when they arrived. They used chimney rods and small tools to inspect the chimney and ensure it was safe.
Mr Lawrence was particularly worried about the fire spreading to the pub’s thatched roof, especially after seeing the cottage which burnt down at Horns Cross a couple of weeks ago.
He said: “I drove past Horns Cross the other day and it’s just devastating. It certainly came to mind when the fire broke out because that property was thatched as well. I had visions of our half a million pound investment going up in smoke.
“We were super lucky. There’s no damage, just a bit of charring around the chimney.”
Mr Lawrence said the incident had not deterred any customers.
“We handed out free glasses of wine to everyone who stood out in the cold and then when it was safe, we got everyone back in and cracked on with the quiz,” he said.
Rob Allin, watch manager at Hartland, said home and business owners should have chimneys swept regularly to prevent the risk of fire.
He said: “It’s been a long, wet winter and people need to think about having their chimney swept and having it done properly.
“We’ve had a quite a lot of chimney fire call-outs lately. I would urge people have their chimney swept regularly, especially those at thatched properties.”