HOUSEHOLDERS in a seaside village were evacuated from their terraced homes last night as a derelict pub was gutted by fire.
Around 60 firefighters from fire stations at Torpoint, Saltash, Looe, Liskeard, Lostwithiel, Callington and Camels Head in Devon were called to the Old Ship public house in Garrett Street, Cawsand at around 7.30pm last night.
Because of access difficulties, the engines, which included specialist appliances from St Austell, Launceston, Falmouth, St Dennis and Plympton, had to park around 200 metres away from the blaze.
Firefighters used firefighters are using four breathing apparatus sets, one jet and one hose reel as well as pumping seawater to douse the flames.
A spokesman for the fire service said: “There were occupied terraced properties either side of the pub which we had to evacuate.
“Our first priority was to ensure the safety of the residents in the surrounding properties as the pub was pretty much gone when we arrived.”
About a dozen people were evacuated from the closest homes and spent the night with friends and relatives.
Sgt Ryan Canning from Devon and Cornwall Police said that most of the nearby properties were empty holiday homes.
"It might have been much worse at the height of summer," he said.
He said Cornwall Council, the British Red Cross and the police had put into action their emergency plan but the close-knit village had rallied around and taken care of those displaced.
It is thought that 13-year-old Toby Bell and his friend Noah Reece, who lives nearby, were first to spot the blaze.
Toby said: "We had just arrived back from sailing and we were the first people to see it.
"There was glass smashed in and you could hear the building groan.
"We ran down to the Halfway House pub and fetched a fire extinguisher to try to put out the blaze."
By 5.30am, the operation had been scaled down with two pumping appliances on the scene. A fire investigation is taking place this morning.
South East Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray sent her thoughts this morning, she said: "Sorry to hear about Ship Inn at Cawsand. Spent so many happy times there with good friends."
Torpoint fire station manager Derek Hunt, whose crew was the first emergency service on the scene, said: “The building was 100per cent alight when we arrived.
“Flames were pouring out of the downstairs windows.”