A HUGE blaze ripped through a Prestwick pub last week forcing it to close.

The Red Lion at the Cross went up in flames on Thursday (November 12) afternoon.

Regular, Tommy Wilson, 67, was out for his lunch with an old work friend when they were evacuated before the fire took hold.

Ayr Advertiser:

He has praised the staff for their quick actions to get everyone out.

Tommy told the Advertiser: “I went in about 12.20pm with an old work colleague to have some lunch.

“We had just ordered our meals, when the waitress came through again to say we had to leave because there’s a fire in the kitchen.

“We thought we were joking at first – my pal had ordered a well done steak. But I thought the staff were excellent the way they handled it. They were very clear in their instructions.”

Tommy and his friend were sent from the front of the restaurant to the back, where the car park is situated, with the rest of the diners.

He added: “We didn’t see any fire or smoke as such.

“When we were all standing outside, both the staff came out and said they were really sorry but we wouldn’t be allowed back in.

“They told us we didn’t need to pay for anything. “

But Tommy, who retired two years ago, has vowed to go back to pay for his bill and hopes his favourite spot can bounce back.

He said: “You have got to feel for them, it was just lucky that it wasn’t at a busier time.

“They have been working so hard, but with this pandemic and now the fire they have been battered from pillar to post.

“You feel sorry for all the publicans.”

The fire has forced the Red Lion to close just weeks after they returned from lockdown.

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “We were alerted at 12.43pm on Thursday, November 12 to reports of a building fire at The Cross, Prestwick, Ayrshire.

“Operations Control mobilised three appliances to the scene to extinguish the fire.”