Southrepps beer festival fire drama

Villagers rallied round to rescue a beer festival which was hit by a kitchen fire at the host pub.

Villagers rallied round to rescue a beer festival which was hit by a kitchen fire at the host pub.

Scores of drinkers and diners were evacuated from the Vernon Arms at Southrepps on Saturday night as the weekend event was in full swing,

Firecrews put out the fire, which began in a electricity box and plunged the venue into darkness.

But locals including farmers dashed off to provide generators, lights and extension leads and within an hour the festival was back on track with emergency power supplies.

Landlord Paul Briggs said the local community had shown 'phenomenal support' both on the night and the following day when they turned up with tea and sausage sandwiches for helpers tidying up.

The pub kitchen was likely to be shut for a couple of days, but they were using the village hall to cook some basic foods for the remainder of the festival.

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Two members of kitchen staff who breathed in smoke while trying to put out the fire using blankets and extinguishers were checked over by paramedics as a precaution after the incident which happened about 8pm on Saturday.

Mr Briggs said 'Our first concern was about our home burning down. When we realised it was under control, we thought

the festival was over - but we had a generator here within minutes and were back up and running inside an hour.

'People have been fantastic, and also offered us places to stay, which luckily we did not need.'

The festival, the first to be held at the pub, began on Friday with folk music, featured rock music from Chibber on Saturday and finished on Sunday with jazz.

Mr Briggs said they were on target to sell out most of the 19 guest beers, and aimed to repeat the event next year despite this year's misfortunes which also included him reversing his car into the entertainment stage trailer in the car park and staff having to sweep floodwater away from the kitchen during a Friday downpour.