A pub boss has told how the prompt actions of staff led to a fire being contained – despite initial confusion among customers.
Manageress Dorothy Warburton said some drinkers refused to believe a blaze had started inside the Cyprus Hotel in Chichester Road, South Shields, on Sunday evening.
Instead, they thought warnings from management that they needed to evacuate the busy bar were a joke.
Their actions were so prompt that the danger had been averted by the time firemen arrived minutes later.
However, Dorothy said it was fortunate the incident had flared during opening hours when staff were present to act.
Work to repair the damage began almost immediately the fire brigade left the scene and the pub is expected to reopen today.
Of the incident, she said: “It took a few minutes of trying to get the customers out.
“There were a lot of people having a drink and many thought that we were joking when we said they had to get out – some thought we were taking the micky.
“The fire was in a fuse box which is in a cupboard. It was spotted, and a staff member used one of the extinguishers to put it out straight away.
“The only damage was to the fuse box itself and that is now being repaired.”
But she added: “We were lucky that the fire happened when there was someone around to put it out.
“Someone lives on the premises and it could have been a different story if it had happened during the night.
“We think it may have been a faulty component that caused the fire.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said two fire engines from South Shields were called to deal the fire.
It confirmed the blaze was put out with a dry powder extinguisher prior to their arrival and that the building was left lightly smoke logged.
Crews used a thermal imaging camera to check for hot sports and used a positive pressure ventilator to clear the smoke.