Historic Gloucester pub The Westgate back open after fire
THE cost of a fire which tore through The Westgate pub this week is still being counted.
The pub is open for business but suffered extensive damage to its roof, kitchen and dance floor.
Insurers were there yesterday to begin adding up the costs of repairing the 16th Century building.
The fire is not being treated as suspicious and is believed to have broken out on the roof after workmen laid bitumen on it.
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Pub manager Chris Marsh said: "We are all still in shock and it's only just started hitting us how dangerous it really was.
"We are all working through it but we haven't been allowed to clear up until they assess it and we can't use the kitchen or gents' or ladies' toilets."
But he said the fire could have been a lot worse if not for the swift action of the fire service.
He praised firefighters as "absolutely awesome" and said: "It could have been a real disaster but thanks to them, everything was brought under control."
Chris has been manager at the Westgate Street gay bar since it opened in April 2010.
He suffered cuts and burns to his arms and hands after trying to tackle the flames, which broke out at about 2pm.
He said: "Some builders had been putting bitumen on the roof and about 15 minutes after they left, we smelt smoke.
"I went up on the roof and it was on fire.
"I tried to put it out by chucking snow at it but I could see it was spreading to the rafters.
"It was quite terrifying."
Nine customers had to be evacuated along with eight members of staff who live at the venue and their three dogs.
Nearby shops, cafes and businesses also had to be evacuated.
Chris said that in a strange twist of fate, firefighters from Gloucester were already on their way to Westgate Street to look at issues with the bins in the area.
They arrived on the scene within minutes and called in crews from Stroud and Cheltenham.
It took two hours to put out the blaze, by which time 20 per cent of the roof had been damaged.
Chris is hopeful the kitchen will reopen fully within a week.