A mum and daughter have been hailed the unlikely heroes of a major blaze – for dousing the thirsts of firefighters with supplies of tea, coffee and soft drinks.
Sharon Gallagher and daughter Beth also served up crisps during the six-hour operation to put out a fire which destroyed Wrightway Car Parts, in West Boldon, and badly damaged two adjoining houses.
Their community spirited actions have now been praised by the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue teams who raced to the scene at 8.20pm on Sunday, May 5.
They have returned to present mum Sharon, and Beth, whose terraced home in Newcastle Road is just 20 metres from the scene, with a big bunch of ‘thank you’ flowers.
Kevin Williams, Watch Manager at South Shields fire station, said: “The garage fire at West Boldon was a very challenging incident.
“It took our crews several hours to bring the incident to a close, so we were very thankful to Sharon and Beth for supplying snacks and drinks to keep us going.”
Beth said: “We really appreciated the flowers and it was a lovely gesture. All of the firefighters were great.”
Investigators have said they believe the blaze at the Victorian-era buildings was started accidentally.
At the height of the fire, a 100 metre cordon was put in place and neighbouring properties, including three houses and the Red Lion, were evacuated.
The emergency services faced the threat of gas cylinders, some which exploded and landed in gardens.
George Wright, 62, owner of the car parts business, has revealed he spotted the fire as he washed his van outside and tried to tackle the flames by using two hose pipes.
Mr Wright, who has operated his business from the site for around 30 years, has said he used his last mouthful of air to escape from his home, which immediately neighbours the garage.
Residents described the blaze as a ‘raging inferno’ and said flames towered above nearby trees and buildings, with explosions creating ‘fireballs’ in the sky.
The fire, which was tackled by over 40 firefighters, is believed to have spread from the commercial premises into Mr Wright’s domestic accommodation through a door in the garage.
* Video supplied by Anthony Brew