A PHOTOGRAPH of an historic West Dorset pub destroyed by fire yesterday has revealed the devastation wrought by the blaze.

The picture, tweeted by the Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, shows the damage done by the thatch fire at the Clock House Inn in Chideock.

Firefighters were called at noon yesterday, with 14 crews at the scene at the height of the incident, including six crews from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

The 16th century thatched property was completely destroyed – but some items were salvaged by firefighters, including the landmark grandfather clock. 

Bournemouth Echo:

The A35 was yesterday closed by police between Bridport and Raymonds Hill, near Lyme Regis, bringing traffic to a standstill across West Dorset.

Today, temporary traffic lights remain at Chideock's North Road junction, causing further delays to motorists.

A statement from Mike and Helen Long who run the pub was left on Facebook.

It read: “Mike and Helen want to pass on their thanks to everyone who have sent messages of support – they are very much appreciated at this awful time.

“Unfortunately the pub has been completely destroyed. Family are all safe but their home is gone. Mike says they will rebuild and they will be back, better than before.”

A spokesperson from Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said the operation was downscaled at around 3pm but some officers were remaining on scene into the evening.

The spokesperson also said that the structure was deemed unstable and machinery was being arranged to help with some demolition.

Chideock resident Stuart Higgins said: “I believe the owner lit the fire as he normally does.

“He then went outside and attended to some hanging baskets, before someone came running towards him to tell him it had gone up in flames.

“It is such a tragedy for the village. They were able to salvage some stuff from downstairs and move it to St Giles’ Church – including the grandfather clock, some furniture and darts trophies."

Stuart is hopeful villagers will club together to try and resurrect the 'local landmark'.

“All of the villagers turned out to help the owners and their family who were obviously extremely distressed by the whole thing" he said.

“The Clock House is a local landmark and it’s just such a sad and awful thing to happen, to see someone lose so much - especially on a busy Bank Holiday Monday.

“Everybody was in tears and very emotional about the whole thing. It’s just an absolute tragedy for the local community and I’m sure everybody will gang together to help do all they can to rebuild the pub.”

The closure caused chronic traffic congestion as motorists attempt to find other routes around the scene.

Traffic was backing up along the A35 towards Axminster in Devon. The Weymouth to Bridport coast road was also slow moving. 

One lane was reopened at 6pm, with traffic lights controlling traffic.