Monday, 23 October 2017

Pub gutted by blaze faces long closure before any rebuild

A PUB in Chazey Heath might have to be demolished after it was gutted by a blaze.

A PUB in Chazey Heath might have to be demolished after it was gutted by a blaze.

Firefighters spent more than three hours tackling the fire at the Packsaddle Inn, off the A4074 Woodcote Road, on Monday morning.

Five crews were called to the scene at 4.30am after owners Marian and Lyndon Sheehan were woken up by a smoke alarm.

The couple, who live on the first floor with their two dogs, got out of the building and called 999.

By the time the firefighters arrived, the fire had taken hold in the ceiling of the bar.

After extinguishing the flames, they used infra-red cameras to find hot spots and hose them down and the fire was out by 7.45am.

The blaze caused major smoke damage to the main bar area and destroyed the roof in the adjoining restaurant. The kitchen was ruined by water from the fire crews’ hoses.

The firefighters managed to save several tables and chairs as well as some of the Sheehans’ personal items.

Investigators from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service spent the day at the pub but the cause of the fire is believed to be an electrical fault in the roof space.

Wiltshire brewers Wadworth, which rents the premises from the Mapledurham Estate, says it is doing everything it can for the Sheehans.

Sales and marketing director Paul Sullivan said: “The pub could be closed for four or five months, which is pretty tragic.

“It may be that we can restore the pub or it may be destroyed and rebuilt to some extent. It all depends on what the estate wants.

“Our main concern is that everyone is okay. We will be working with the tenants to help them work out their next steps. Hopefully, they will be insured for loss of earnings but we’ll manage that situation as best we can.

“If we have another pub available then we’ll work to make their lives as easy as possible as their livelihoods are clearly at stake.

“They’re obviously very distraught as I think they’ve lost a lot of their possessions.”

Robert Wytchard, manager of the Mapledurham Estate, said: “The decision to repair the building or write it off will be taken by our insurers.

“If we can help in any way, we will — we want the pub back up and running as soon as possible.”

The estate’s insurers NFU, who visited on Wednesday, are expected to publish the results of their investigation next week.

The Sheehans took over the Packsaddle in early 2011, saying they wanted to attract families. Mrs Sheehan said the food would be “good quality” and “wholesome”.

She added: “The pub has a lovely garden and a brilliant play area and we hope families will come and enjoy the facilities.

“We have refurbished and brightened up the pub and given it our stamp.”

Mr Sheehan ran a hotel in Ireland for 10 years.

Before the couple took over, the pub had been closed for two months.

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