Landlord of pub near Wicken Fen thanks everyone who helped prevent fire spreading to thatched roof

PUBLISHED: 13:21 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:23 06 July 2020

Firefighters were called to tackle a chimney fire at The Maid's Head in Wicken on Saturday night. Pictures: The Maid's Head on Facebook

Firefighters were called to tackle a chimney fire at The Maid's Head in Wicken on Saturday night. Pictures: The Maid's Head on Facebook

The Maid's Head Facebook Page

The first day of opening after lockdown was eventful for a pub close to Wicken Fen - firefighters were called to tackle a fire in the chimney.

Firefighters were called to tackle a chimney fire at The Maid's Head in Wicken on Saturday night. Pictures: The Maid's Head Facebook PageFirefighters were called to tackle a chimney fire at The Maid's Head in Wicken on Saturday night. Pictures: The Maid's Head Facebook Page

Calvin Holland, one of the partners of The Maid’s Head, in Wicken has publicly thanked staff, locals and firefighters for their help in preventing the flames from spreading to the thatched roof.

He said: “If the fire had reached the thatch then it would’ve been game over for us.

“Thankfully nobody was hurt and we feel very lucky to still have our business.”

Firefighters from Newmarket and Burwell were called to the pub at around 6:20pm on Saturday (July 4) to reports that a fire had started in the chimney.

Firefighters were called to tackle a chimney fire at The Maid's Head in Wicken on Saturday evening. Pictures: The Maid's Head Facebook Page.Firefighters were called to tackle a chimney fire at The Maid's Head in Wicken on Saturday evening. Pictures: The Maid's Head Facebook Page.

Calvin explained the open fire had been lit because it was starting to feel chilly inside.

He said: “The government [COVID-19] guidelines say pubs should have windows open to prevent the spread of the virus. We were also having issues with the heating.

“To me, it felt cold. I don’t want my customers eating a meal in their coats and jumpers, so I asked someone to light the fire.

“Before we knew it, there was thick smoke throughout the building. So we evacuated everyone and went through the standard fire procedure.”

Cavin Holland (R) pictured with his business partner Luke Ashdown-Tams (L). Both have publicly thanked locals, staff and firefighters for their help in preventing a chimney fire from spreading to the thatched roof of The Maid's Head pub in Wicken. Pictures: SuppliedCavin Holland (R) pictured with his business partner Luke Ashdown-Tams (L). Both have publicly thanked locals, staff and firefighters for their help in preventing a chimney fire from spreading to the thatched roof of The Maid's Head pub in Wicken. Pictures: Supplied

Fire safety expert Paul Skinner, who runs Prestige Fire Safety lives close by and helped until firefighters arrived.

Calvin said: “Paul took on the fire from inside the building while our chef, Scott, climbed the roof and tackled the flames from the top of the chimney.

“Together, they managed to prevent the fire from spreading any further.”

He added: “Even after everything was over, people were offering to help us clean up.

"If the fire had reached the thatch then it would’ve been game over for us," said Calvin Holland, who runs The Maid's Head with business partner Luke Ashdown-Tams. Images: The Maid's Head Facebook page.

“Firemen were wiping tables down, locals offered to lend a hand with the cleaning so we could reopen on Sunday.

“Lots of people have been very kind about what happened to us, and we really appreciate it.”

The pub has reopened again as normal.

Calvin and his business partner Luke Ashdown-Tams, took on The Maid’s Head in February.

Their aim is to turn it into a popular eating spot, but their plans were put on hold a month later when the coronavirus lockdown was introduced.

Calvin joked: “After the events of Saturday night, it has certainly helped us get to know the locals.”

The pair also run The White Pheasant at Fordham and The Anchor at Burwell.


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