Pub staff who provided food and shelter for residents during a serious fire in Wallsend town centre have been praised.
More than 100 residents were forced to evacuate their homes at around 2am on Sunday when flames engulfed a tyre yard and workshop on Atkinson Road.
They were given shelter by staff at the Anson pub while emergency services cordoned off streets surrounding the incident at Metro Tyres, where gas cylinders also caught fire and exploded.
Staff at the pub made everyone comfortable through the night by serving hot food and drinks, juice and water, and handing out chocolate and biscuits given to them as Christmas gifts.
Now people at the pub have been praised for their actions by North Tyneside Council’s Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn CBE.
She said: “It’s amazing how the community came together to provide a haven at the Anson pub for people who had nowhere else to go after being evacuated from their homes.
“People in Wallsend are the salt of the earth and this is about what real communities do for each other in their hour of need. I’m incredibly proud and grateful for the way everybody has responded and taken care of each other during a very serious incident.”
Wallsend Neighbourhood Inspector Mark Storey, who presented the staff at the Anson with an Area Commander’s Commendation, said: “The staff at the Anson displayed genuine care and concern for the residents in Wallsend and the service they provided was outstanding.
“The staff also offered up biscuits and sweets from their own homes to show further kindness to those suffering the consequences of the fire.
“I’m incredibly proud to serve within such a kind and caring community – it was an honour to present the staff at the Anson with this award, it’s very well deserved.”
Nobody was reported injured in the incident and it took firefighters several hours to get the blaze under control.
It was 8.30am before all residents could return to their homes.
Mike Newell, the pub’s general manager who lives above the pub, described the events.
He said: “I’d just gone to bed when I heard an explosion. When I went downstairs there were around 50 people outside and by the end, we had about 120 people in here. We gave them tea, coffee, juice, biscuits and crisps – anything we could to make them comfortable.
“A lot of people seemed quite scared, they didn’t know what was going on. All I knew was that we needed to keep these people warm. They were in their pyjamas, dressing gowns, they had dogs, cats, everything with them.
“I would have hated to think of people standing out there all night. It was cold and wet. As the landlord of one of the oldest pubs in Wallsend, I’m enormously proud of my team and happy to be at the centre of the community where everyone helps out.”