South Shields chip shop blaze believed to be caused by electrical fault
A fire that ripped through a South shields takeaway on Saturday night is believed to be caused by an electrical fault.
The fire started at 6.30pm in the Red Hut fish shop on Ocean Road, leading to a heroic rescue - by three brave passers' by - of a young family from the flat above.
Substantial damage was caused to the premises and smoke entered the second floor accommodation.
A spokesman for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was "probably" caused by a faulty thermostat on a deep fat fryer. However, he stressed that this has not yet been confirmed.
Three witnesses who were in the area at the time, sprang into action on seeing the blaze. Peter Carr, John Houlsby and an unknown man, set about trying to alert residents of nearby flats to the danger.
Peter, 46, a delivery driver for another takeaway, even risked his own safety by going inside the burning premises to check if anybody was inside.
The dad, who was just setting off for a food delivery, described seeing flames coming from the kitchen at the back of the premises.
"I was just about to do a delivery and I had seen some flames and sparks inside the kitchen," he said.
"I ran into the back of the kitchen - the back door was open.
"I dropped down to the floor - I was on my hands and knees. I didn't know if there was somebody in there who may have been overcome by smoke.
"I could see the flames."
Meanwhile the fire brigade was called, and John joined Peter in trying to alert residents of the flats upstairs to the danger, as well as staff at the adjacent Moonlight takeaway.
Peter said: "Me and John were by ourselves braying on this door. then the other lad turned up - like a genie - I don't know where he came from.
"John's kicked the door in, to the flat with the two kids
"There was no smoke at the time at the flats when we went up there, but it could have been far worse - that place could have gone up.
"We brayed on the door to get them out, John carried one of the kids to safety, while myself and the other lad brayed on the other doors, as we didn't know which flats were empty. I told the staff at Moonlight to get out."
Peter said the Red Hut staff could have done more when the fire started, to prevent it from getting worse.
"The door shouldn't have been open," he added. " I just walked straight in.
"There were fire blankets in there and I would have used them myself
"The staff must have just run out the door at the first sign of fire - they hadn't even shut the door.
"Even if I could have found the fire blanket, the smoke was at waste height by then.
"My concern was that somebody could be injured or unconscious and I put myself in danger."
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: "We are not investigating the fire."