Hungry Horse fire: Witnesses tell of shock at The Bell pub inferno
The owners of a popular family pub gutted by a raging fire have vowed to rebuild it later this year.
The Bell, a Hungry Horse-branded premises in Preston Road, Yeovil, went up in flames in an early-morning inferno on Sunday.
The cause remains unknown as firefighters and proprietors Greene King investigate the blaze.
Nobody was inside the pub at the time.
Vikki Farrar, who lives opposite the pub in Manhattan apartments, was woken up at 4am by a person outside chanting the lyrics to the song The Roof Is On Fire.
The 26-year-old said: “I heard someone singing and thought it was our building that was on fire so grabbed a pair of shoes and ran outside.
“I then saw it was the pub that was on fire and not the flats.
“I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. There were about five fire engines and I could see a small glow at the back of the building. I couldn’t believe how quickly it spread. In about an hour flames were appearing at the front of the building, moving to the upper floors and through the roof.
“There were a few explosions and the parts of the roof collapsed. Because it was so cold you couldn’t feel the flames so much but ever since the whole area has had an eerie smoky smell.
“There was a huge plume of smoke that could probably be seen for miles, the flames were reaching up out of the top and ash was falling from the sky.
“Once I knew no one was inside or hurt I was concerned that the fire would spread across the road and the we would be evacuated.
“The emergency services were so calm and contained the fire. It was really impressive seeing them work.”
Another witness to the fire was AgustaWestland employee Geoff Collins and his seven-year-old daughter Charlotte.
He said: “It is devastating for the area as it is the best family pub in Yeovil.
“It has a large car park, huge playground at the back, the food area is always busy and they had a great line up of live music booked throughout the year.
“When we arrived the smoke was so thick you couldn’t see the pub. At first we couldn’t see flames but eventually we saw fire in the bar area. I can only guess that was as the fire moved around.
“It was my daughter who alerted me to the fire. She came running into my bedroom saying that something terrible had happened.
“We went to a window and saw the smoke. We went out to the road and it was terrible.
“My daughter turned to me and said it made her very sad as it was her favourite park.”
This week representatives from Greene King met with staff to discuss their futures.
The pub has been run by the brewery for the past decade and a spokeswoman said it hopes to re-deploy its employees to other establishments within the company until the pub is rebuilt.
She added: “Thankfully no-one was on site and everyone is safe. We are working with the emergency services to establish the cause of the fire and plan to rebuild the pub later this year.
“We have met with all the staff at the Bell and will be working with everyone on an individual basis over the next week to find them alternative local employment within the company where possible.
“We are still determining the extent of the damage caused by the fire at this stage, but we are committed to rebuilding the Bell.
“It is our intention that all our staff will be able to return to their jobs at the pub when it reopens.”
HUNGRY HORSE PUB FIRE - IN PICTURES