TWO off-duty firemen were hailed as heroes after they saved a pub from burning to the ground last night.

The fire broke out in the kitchen of the Royal Arms, Tockholes, as more than 20 customers had an evening drink.

The alarm was raised after smoke began to seep out from the kitchen and landlord Phil Bennison at first tried to put out the fire himself.

But off-duty firefighters Nigel Yates, from Blackburn, and Howard Yates, from Darwen, leapt into action to save the day. They had been relaxing at the pub after a bike ride.

Nigel and Howard, who are not related, ushered customers to safety before tackling the blaze.

"We used wet towels to put out the fire," said Nigel. "It was very serious and they have been very fortunate."

The fire, which destroyed the kitchen, is believed to have started in a deep fat fryer.

Relieved landlord Phil Bennison said: "The fire was out of control and if they had not been there the whole building would have burned down.

"The two firefighters were brilliant - they can have as much whisky as they want!"

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