THE owner of a Chipping Sodbury workshop which went up in smoke on Saturday night has spoken of his devastation at losing 50 years of carpentry tools.
Ted Hughes, whose Grade II listed house to the rear of Horse Street and Broad Street was also badly damaged in the blaze, told the Gazette the fire had been a ‘nightmare’ but he was relieved his family and neighbours had all escaped unharmed.
Mr Hughes, 71, bought and converted the stables to the Royal Oak pub in 1997, said: “We are coping. We have no electricity, heating or water at the moment and the whole house completely reeks of smoke so we are staying elsewhere.
“We have no idea when we will be allowed back in yet. It is just such an upheaval, that is the problem.”
Mr Hughes’ daughter Liz Edwards, her partner Charlie Ludlow and Liz’s children Anna, 18, Huw, 13, and three-year-old Lucy all escaped the building uninjured when the fire broke out in the workshop at 1.25am on Sunday.
“I was at my girlfriend’s in Frampton Cotterell,” said Mr Hughes. “I had a phone call from my daughter and rushed straight back but it was already ablaze.
“There was nothing I could do, I just had to stand there and watch.”
Added the retired carpenter, who worked in the Chipping Sodbury area for 50 years: “My workshop has been completely destroyed and will have to be demolished.
“I used to spend a lot of time out there pottering about and had a lot of tools I had accumulated over the years.”
In total, 35 firefighters took two hours to put out the blaze as many residents and people enjoying a night out looked on.
Avon Fire and Rescue Service group manager Mark Anderson said five appliances, including incident support and Red Cross vehicles, were on the scene.
“There were no reports of any injuries,” he said. "The 10x10metre workshop was well alight and the fire had spread to adjacent buildings.”
Nextdoor neighbour Caroline Gurney, whose car port was destroyed in the blaze, said she and husband Nick had been awake when the fire broke out.
“We never go to bed before 2.30am on a Friday and Saturday because of the noise from the Portcullis Hotel opposite,” she said. “I was playing a game on my laptop when I smelt electrical smoke.
“Five minutes later a policeman knocked on the door and asked to look out of our upstairs window to get a view of the fire. It didn’t look much at all, maybe a bonfire that had gone out of control.
“But three minutes later we were evacuated. It was absolutely terrifying.”
Mr and Mrs Gurney were among 20 residents to be taken to Chipping Sodbury Police Station for shelter during the night after all houses in Horse Street were evacuated.
“We have to be thankful as it could have been a lot worse,” said Mrs Gurney. “The police and firefighters were wonderful.”
It is believed the fire was caused by an electrical fault.