Pub owner tells of arson fears

Apple Tree Pub owner Brian O'Rouke with his son Oliver 5 and their pet dog Paddy 5 at the scene at the rear of the pub where there was an arson attack (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150615-110342008
Apple Tree Pub owner Brian O'Rouke with his son Oliver 5 and their pet dog Paddy 5 at the scene at the rear of the pub where there was an arson attack (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150615-110342008

A pub owner said an arson attack could have destroyed his business.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue was called to the Apple Tree pub in West Green at 12.36am on Tuesday last week (June 9).

Two fire crews were called after a large pile of grass cuttings was set alight and spread to two trees behind the pub.

Four gas canisters were on top of the mound.

Pub owner Brian O’Rourke said they could have exploded and spread the fire to the building.

He said: “It was very serious, firefighters had only limited time before the whole place would have went.

“We were very lucky that a neighbour in the chip shop across the road looked over and had seen the fire.”

Stephen Wong, manager of West Green Fish Bar, called the fire service to the empty pub.

He also called its manager Serena Clinton who gave firefighters access to the pub.

Two crews used two hoses to put out the flames and cool the carbon dioxide and nitrogen cylinders.

Serena Clinton, who firefighters told to stay in the pub, texted Mr O’Rourke updates from the scene.

Mr O’Rourke arrived after the fire was out. The pub was not damaged. He said: “[I felt] just annoyance of how and why and why was it set alight. Hopefully it’s not malicious.”

Sussex Police was called to the scene at 1.10am and has appealed for witnesses.

A spokesman said: “Firefighters suspect it was started deliberately.

“Anyone who saw anything or has any information, should contact police by emailing 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or ring 101 quoting serial 0063 of 09/06.”

Mr O’Rourke said the canisters had been left by the pub’s pervious management. The gas is used by the industry.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage at www.crawleyobserver.co.uk

2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/crawleyobserver

3) Follow us on Twitter @Crawley_Obby

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Crawley Observer - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.