A FLARE was let off and frightened staff were attacked when Newcastle United fans "kicked off" in a bar at the Vitality Stadium.

Staff as young as 16 said they felt threatened during the terrifying incident which took place just before half time in Saturday's clash with AFC Bournemouth.

A police investigation has been launched and officers have confirmed a used flare was found in the main Away bar.

Several members of staff have contacted the Daily Echo to describe the shocking incident.

They said a flare let off in the bar affected smoke alarms and that shutters started to come down automatically as a result of the smoke alarms being activated.

Ellen Lucas, a 17-year-old runner in the bar said: "It was horrible and really scary. They thought we were deliberately putting the shutters down to close the bar and they wouldn't let us explain.

"They were all really drunk and it started getting nasty. One of the bar workers was pulled over the bar, injuring her ribs - she was crying."

Ellen said a fan leapt over the bar and started stealing items and throwing them over the bar.

"They were chanting and throwing stuff at us. They were trying to grab everything - I was really shocked."

Bar worker Chloe Mathers said: "One man grabbed me by my hair and pulled me across the bar. My ribs are bruised.

"I have seen a lot while working in that bar but never anything as bad as this."

A senior member of staff at the bar added: "It was just before half time and they had all started coming in to get more alcohol.

"Newcastle scored a goal and all of a sudden there was smoke in the room and the shutters started coming down.

"They were trying to force the shutters up and we had to stop serving because they were getting too rowdy."

She said one member of staff suffered a black eye after being elbowed in the face, another was pulled over by her hair and another had a swollen eye after a bag of toffees was thrown in his face.

The staff member, who does not wish to be named, added: "The stewards managed to get them out eventually but the bar was a total state and we couldn't open again."

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: "Something triggered off the smoke detector in the bar area resulting in the shutters to close, as is standard practice. Later that day while the area was being cleaned a used flare was discovered.

"One supporter is said to have accessed the bar area while the shutters were closing. This matter was dealt with by staff. No official incidents of theft or assault have been reported to Dorset Police, however some initial details were obtained and enquiries are ongoing relating to this matter to confirm if any offences have been committed."

Senior figures at Newcastle United are liaising with AFC Bournemouth and with Dorset Police as inquiries continue.

The incident happened around an hour before an alleged pitch invasion at the end of the match.

Five Newcastle United fans are due to appear in court in April in connection with the reported encroachment.