‘Fire could have been worse but it’s our livelihood...’

MESS The fire-damaged kitchen at the Horse & Jockey, near Denmead.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (120984-2)
MESS The fire-damaged kitchen at the Horse & Jockey, near Denmead. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120984-2)
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A PUB landlord has spoken of the moment a fire tore through his kitchen on one of the busiest days of the year.

Dick Orders was forced to evacuate the packed Horse & Jockey pub, in Hipley, Denmead on Sunday night.

FIRE-HIT The Horse & Jockey at Denmead

FIRE-HIT The Horse & Jockey at Denmead

He described it as the pub’s most successful Mother’s Day ever, until it was suddenly cut short by the sound of fire alarms.

The blaze started on a kitchen grill and quickly spread to the building’s flat roof.

In total, 26 firefighters were called out at around 8.15pm to tackle the fire and they managed to stop it spreading to the rest of the pub, which only suffered minor smoke damage.

But yesterday staff and friends worked to try to salvage whatever they could from the devastated kitchen.

Mr Orders said he faces at least a fortnight of being unable to serve food.

‘On one level I’m relieved, because the fire could’ve been much worse,’ he said.

‘But this is our business and our livelihood and it leaves you feeling absolutely gutted.

‘The pub was full of people and we served more than 300 meals in total, we only had four left to go.

‘I heard the alarm and got up on the roof to try and put it out, but then I saw it was inside the flat roof and we got everyone out.

‘Nobody panicked and everybody stayed calm. Our customers are great. I’ve already had most of them try and pay me for their food, but at the moment the electricity is off so I can’t even get into the till.’

Mr Orders added that he expects the pub to reopen for drinks within 48 hours but that repairing the kitchen will take much longer.

‘We have just come through the tough winter period,’ he said.

‘And this is just not what we needed right now.’