Pub blaze 'could have killed someone'

A SUSPICIOUS fire at the rear of a pub could have resulted in serious injury and even death if it had not been spotted quickly enough, a landlord claimed yesterday.

By Roddy Ashworth

A SUSPICIOUS fire at the rear of a pub could have resulted in serious injury and even death if it had not been spotted quickly enough, a landlord claimed yesterday.

Around 20 customers were watching football in the Swiss Bell, Braintree, when a store and cellar at the back of the pub went up in flames on Saturday evening.

But it was only when a member of the public alerted bar staff to the blaze that the drinkers were evacuated from the premises.


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Yesterday Scott Gilhooly, landlord of the pub in Mountbatten Road on the Fairview estate, said if the fire had come any closer it would have reached gas canisters, a spirits cage and cleaning fluids, all of which could have exploded.

“It was a very dangerous situation and it could have killed people,” he said.

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“This is not the first fire we have had round here. The back of a local shop was set alight and the bins have been set fire to. The garages are forever on fire.”

Mr Gilhooly was not on the premises when the blaze began, but was called back quickly by staff.

“It was about 6.30pm when I was phoned. I was in Tesco, at Marks Farm. I could see the smoke from there.

“The fire service turned up, but the fire had travelled very quickly along the loft space. Another five minutes and it would have been a very different story.”

Mr Gilhooly said that witnesses had reported seeing two youths coming out of the building shortly before the blaze took hold.

“It looks like they stuffed cardboard under the door and then lit it.

“To be quite honest, someone has got to do something about them before something very serious happens. They just keep on doing it.”

The fire eventually filled the pub with smoke and three crews - two from Braintree and one from Coggeshall - put it out at around 7.20pm.

A spokeswoman for Essex Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was being treated as suspicious and an investigation had been launched.

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