A FISH and chip restaurant owner has praised his staff and firefighters for saving his business, after a blaze ripped through the premises.
Michael Armstrong, whose family has run Pinnacles Famous Fish Restaurant in Seahouses for the last 22 years, was horrified to receive a phone call last Thursday morning telling him his Main Street property was on fire.
But by the time he made the short drive from his home at nearby Christon Bank to the harbour village, local firefighters were on scene and had doused the flames which had erupted from a frying range.
Five pumps in all answered the 999 call, attending from the local station at Seahouses, as well as nearby Belford, plus Alnwick, Berwick and Wooler.
Staff at the Cameo Hair Fashion salon, above Pinnacles, were also evacuated from the building as a precaution, after stylist Ann Dawson noticed people on the street staring at the premises.
“I went down to see what was going on and then saw the smoke and flames,” said Ann, who was in the studio with owner Maxine Pearce and her daughter Lauren Pearce at the time. “I came back upstairs and got everyone out.
“We’re just gutted for Pinnacles.”
Damage was restricted to the take-away section of the restaurant, but the loss of key cooking equipment means it will likely be out of action until Easter – a devastating blow for Mr Armstrong and his team.
“It’s gut-wrenching and I’m totally and utterly devastated, as are the staff,” he said. “Our season really starts from the school half-term holidays and we were all geared up to start last Friday. The business increases up until Easter, which is our big start.
“We have been here for 22 years and it is very much a family business – all my children have come through the ranks and I regard my staff as members of that family. A lot of their friends and relations have worked for me over the years, so we really are a village affair.
“We don’t know exactly what happened to the range, as it has been very well maintained and has all its servicing records. It was while the oil was being filtered that it went up. My staff fought the fire with the proper extinguishers and fire blankets, but we have a policy that if there’s a doubt, get out.
“I can’t praise them or the fire crews enough. They were exemplary and managed to limit the damage to the take-away side. The restaurant is okay.”
Mr Armstrong said the aim was to re-open as quickly as possible, but ordering a replacement range would take time.
“We’re out of action until we get a new range, but the rest of the shop only suffered cosmetic damage,” he said. “We’re all pulling together and we’ve had lots of support from members of the public and customers.
“I’m just so relieved that nobody was injured, as fires are an absolute nightmare.”