Former pub wrecked as 60 firefighters tackle blaze next to A41
Around 60 firefighters have been tackling a blaze at a disused pub this morning which shut the A41 for more than three hours.
The fire gutted the Countess's Arms pub at Weston Heath, between Newport and Tong, after breaking out in the early hours.
Firefighters were forced to fight the flames from the outside of the building only after the roof fell in.
GALLERY: Firefighters tackle pub blaze
The alarm was raised by a passer-by driving on the A41, who phoned 999.at 3.50am.
Crews arriving at the fire found the old pub well alight with flames through the roof and windows shattered from the intense heat.
It is believed that there was no-one inside the building.
The main trunk road was shut for more than three hours and drivers were forced to make diversions through Damson Lane and King Street in Weston Heath while the emergency services fought to contain the blaze.
At the fire's height, there were 11 fire crews at the scene and flames and smoke could be seen for miles around.
Simon Hardiman, from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, said that for the safety of firefighters the operation was restricted to fighting the blaze from the outside.
"We are using the aerial ladder platform to fight the fire," he said.
"Due to the structure of the building and firefighter safety, to prevent any injuries we are working from the exterior only. There is significant damage to the pub."
The A41 was closed between Junction 3 of the M54 and Newport, with the road reopened just after 7.30am.
The fire is now under control but fire crews will be at the scene for much of the day.
"I believe the pub has been shut for some years and we had to gain specialised cutting equipment to get our fire engines onto the pub car park to get them off the A41. Getting water to the site was also an issue."
Incident Commander Tony Druce was on the scene this morning.
"The roof collapsed and it is hard to get to the seats of fire," he said.
"The fire could still be going on in the cellar, although it's too dangerous to get there.
"There will be a full investigation when when it is safe to do so."
Mr Druce said derelict pubs are often vulnerable.
"There's no fire detection, there's no power to the building – you don't get the early warnings," he said.
"All you're relying on, especially when it starts at 3am, is people passing to put the call in.
"If you had a pub that was being used, smoke detection would pick up the fire in the early stages."
Reporter Mat Growcott was at the scene:
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