REACTION: Eyewitness accounts of fire at Hartford Marina

Steve McCarthy, who witnessed the fire from his boat

Steve McCarthy, who witnessed the fire from his boat - Credit: Archant

BOATOWNERS at the marina surrounding the Hartford Mill Pub have been left shocked and distressed following a devastating fire earlier this morning.

Barrie Perry, the owner of the marina

Barrie Perry, the owner of the marina - Credit: Archant

BOATOWNERS at the marina surrounding the Hartford Mill Pub have been left shocked and distressed following a devastating fire early this morning.

The fire, which broke out at around 4.20am, completely destroyed the pub, living quarters and the roof of the building. Although the function room has been saved, it has suffered substantial smoke damage.

The seven people who were inside the pub at the time were unharmed.

Terry and Steve McCarthy, of Saffron Walden, had enjoyed a meal at the pub the night before and had tied their boat to a nearby pontoon overnight.

Steve, 61, said: “I got up at 4am and saw that the pub lights were on which I thought was unusual. I sat at the window for 30 seconds just looking into the pub to see if I could see anything.

“At about quarter to five we started to hear some crackling - at first I thought it was rain on the roof.”

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The couple then heard further crackling followed by an “almighty bang”.

When Steve got up to see where the sound was coming from he discovered that the pub was alight.

Terry, 56, said: “The back was ablaze and the flames were about twice the height of the building. The smoke was billowing up and some of the smoke came towards the boat.

“We got off the boat and started to untie it to get away. We raced off quickly in a panic and came round to the other side of the marina.”

This was at around 5.06am and the fire brigade had already been alerted to the fire when they called.

Steve said: “It’s a tragedy – lots of people use that pub.”

Terry added: “It’s surreal, it’s like it didn’t happen. It’s just unbelievable. It’s really distressing as we were only sitting there last night having a meal and a bottle of wine.”

For some residents who were further away from the blaze, the first they heard of the fire was from the news and phone calls from concerned friends.

Barrie Perry, the owner of Hartford Marina, said: “It is a shock and it affects the number of people coming down here. The first we heard of it was when we put the TV on – we didn’t know anything about it.”

Although the fire has now been extinguished the fire service are currently dealing with hotspots externally as the building is structurally unsound.

Richard Dykes, incident commander, said: “The fire service have done all we can to bring the businesses back to normal surrounding this site as far as is reasonably possible. This is a tragic loss for the community, I understand that this is a thriving restaurant and the heart of the Hartford Marina.”

To view more pictures of the fire click here.

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