COOL-HEADED Richard Harrop was praised after he led customers to safety when a blaze broke out at an ancient country inn.
Richard was on lunchtime duty at the family-run The Old Original, Scouthead when an electrical fault in an outhouse triggered a fire and explosion.
Acrid black smoke billowed over surrounding countryside but the 35-year-old father of three calmly lead more than 20 diners to a safe point outside the pub.
Three fire-engines raced to the scene and after they had doused flames firefighters praised Richard for his speedy response.
Richard said: “We were having a busy lunchtime when suddenly flames came from an outhouse next to the pub and there was a loud bang.
“My priority was customers’ safety and I was helped by our chef, Sarah Scholes, who did a brilliant job.
“The fire fighters were very quickly on the scene and I’m delighted to say everyone was safe.
“We just worked as a team and our neighbours mucked in too, helping to clear up after the blaze.”
Landlord Tom Harrop said: “We are very proud of Richard and the staff. The fire marshall said he did a great job.”
An electrical appliance is understood to have caused the fire shortly before 1.30pm on Tuesday, November 28.
Fire crews from Oldham and Mossley prevented the fire from spreading to a neighbouring house, another outbuilding and the pub itself.
They spent over an hour attending the incident using breathing apparatus and a jet hose.
Oldham crew manager John McIlquham said: “Luckily we managed to stop the fire spreading but potentially it could have been much worse.
“The house suffered a small amount of heat damage to the wall but nothing serious and the pub had evacuated its customers before our arrival.”
The Old Original is expected to remain closed for couple of days but be open at the weekend for business as usual. Christmas bookings will not be affected.