Sidford’s two pubs suffer chimney fires

D�j� vu for Blue Ball couple as log fire chimney triggers fire alarm

SIDFORD’S two pubs were involved in chimney fires this week.

On Saturday, it was, for a moment, a case of d�j� vu for Linda and Roger Newton who run the Blue Ball, when two Sidmouth fire crews raced to the inn after its front lounge chimney vented smoke into the room, setting off the alarm.

In 2006 the original 700-year-old building was razed to the ground after a spark arrester in the corresponding chimney failed to prevent sparks dropping on to the thatch and catching alight.

On Monday, the Rising Sun also suffered a chimney fire, but said Rob Crisp, Sidmouth Fire Brigade’s station manager, no damage was done.

He also attended Saturday’s incident, and arranged for an aerial ladder from Exeter to help douse down the top of the chimney from above.

He said: “The fire was in the chimney breast, about five to six feet up, which we dealt with quite easily with chimney gear – a hose on chimney rods.

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“There was a build-up of soot and clinker, tar residue, that comes from burning logs, and some of the residue was in the fan cowling, which caught fire.

“A couple of finger flames were coming out of the top of the chimney. I needed the aerial appliance to take off the fan and douse it down.”

The fire crews were soon on the scene after the alarm was raised around 11am when only four people were in the pub, two having coffee in the lounge at the time.

Roger Newton told the Sidmouth Herald: “The chimney was swept in November and due now. It was more to do with a technical problem with the extractor.

“No-one likes to go on fire, but it was low key and done and dusted within the hour.”

He said birthday celebrations for 100-year-old Hilda Moores from Brewery Lane were not affected (see page 15) as they took place in another part of the building.

Linda Newton said the pub was evacuated as a precaution and her husband checked no-one was still in any upstairs rooms.

“I did feel a bit of d�j� vu but luckily it didn’t catch the thatch,” she said.

Rob Crisp attended the 2006 blaze at the Blue Ball and said: “Then the fire had really got hold before we were called. Now, because of the new build, they have fire-retardant material under the thatch so it is not so easy to catch fire as the old thatch.

“We were there very quickly to get water on to the area around the chimney and douse down any sparks.”

He said log burning chimneys should ideally be swept every two months if they are in constant use.

Mr Newton said a new fan extractor was being fitted in the chimney and all the Blue Ball chimneys were being checked “to be on the safe side.”