Evacuation drama after Westgate pub roof fire
HUNDREDS of onlookers watched as The Westgate pub caught fire yesterday.
The afternoon drama saw Westgate Street partially closed off at 2.30pm as firefighters used an aerial crane to put out the roof fire.
Drinkers at the 16th Century bar fled while manager Chris Marsh tried to tackle the blaze until firefighters arrived.
Robin Ledbury, owner of The Barber, which is two doors down, discovered the blaze.
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He said: "It all happened so quickly. We saw a lot of smoke and everyone got out of the building, then before we knew it the fire were here."
Tom Skinner, who works at Gloucester MP Richard Graham's nearby office, said: "We could smell smoke and ran around the back where we saw the roof was on fire.
"Chris, the bar manager, had blood on his arms and was apparently trying to tackle the fire before firefighters arrived."
It is believed the fire started in the roof, where builders were laying bitumen.
Bar worker Sarah Guilfoyle was on hand to evacuate the bar.
She said: "We had a few of our regulars in at the time and when we found out about the fire, we got everyone out quickly."
Customers were joined by workers at the next door KFC, staff at Mr Graham's constituency office and city councillor Jennie Dallimore on the street.
Neighbouring business owners helped fire crews by removing street furniture to allow fire engines access.
Fire commander Jon French said: "The fire was well alight when we arrived.
"Once we were on scene we requested further resources, which were sent from Stroud, Cheltenham East and Cheltenham West.
"We've also used an aerial appliance to bring the fire under control."
Around 20 per cent of the roof was damaged.
Take a look at our Photo Gallery of the Westgate pub fire