THE owner of a pub which was devastated after a fire ripped through the building has said he is lucky to be alive.

Rory Craig-Queen said he felt like “something inside him had died” after he was left with only the clothes he was wearing following the blaze at the Cresswell Arms in Appleton-le-Street last Wednesday.

The fire started in the kitchen of the pub, which has only recently reopened, and quickly spread.

Rory, who is running the pub with his daughter, Emily, said: “I was in the pub with Emily and our chef Rob Brittain at around 4.30pm when one of the fryers caught fire.

“I thought at the time I could fight it, but it was so intense. The pub is a 17th century building with lots of wood so the fire just swept through and I had to leave.

“The fire officer said that if it had been in the middle of the night when we were asleep we wouldn’t have been here.”

Rory said he had been unable to watch as firefighters tackled the blaze.

“I have not only lost my business, I’ve lost my home as well,” he said.

“I’ve had to go out and buy clothes, shoes and other essentials, which can be replaced, but it’s the sentimental things that mean so much to me that are lost forever, such as photos and panto videos.

“I have also lost all my ID, such as my driving licence and passport, even my car keys, so it has been a nightmare trying to get things sorted out.”

Rory said he and Emily were now staying at Chapter Two, the pub in Malton he also owns.

“We are trying to find somewhere to live and then have to start again,” he said.

“Emily is adamant she doesn’t want to go back to the Cresswell Arms as this has left her badly shaken.

“It is only just starting to sink in as to what has happened and the reality is starting to hit home. It has also made me anxious at every noise in case it’s a fire.”

Rory said: “I took the Cresswell Arms over just as the coronavirus pandemic started, which was not ideal but at the time I thought that it couldn’t get any worse.

“I ploughed everything into the place doing a lot of the work myself.”

He added: “The Cresswell has always been the jewel in the crown of pubs, one of the best in Ryedale and when all the work was finished it looked an absolute diamond.

“This was going to be a new start and a new life for Emily and me, and she was really starting to show her true potential. I love her to bits and am so proud of her.”

The Cresswell Arms had reopened last month following the coronavirus lockdown, starting with the bar, followed by accommodation and finally the restaurant three weeks ago.

“I managed to find our diary, which was soaking wet, but it showed that we were full every single night,” Rory added.

“Everyone has been so supportive, including villagers who had also got behind us with people saying how we had really managed to bring the village together again.”

Rory said that since the fire he had received hundreds of messages of support.

“It has really blown me away that so many people think so much of us,” he said.

“I’d like to thank the loyalty and bravery of my chef Rob who all through the situation was on hand and Beth Lodge for looking after Emily.

“The fire brigade sure are brave men who tried everything to bring the fire under control in very tricky circumstances, we are indebted to them.

“We count our blessings in two ways. One, no one was hurt and two we are truly blessed with the support, friendship, kindness and community everyone has shown us.

“Both Emily and I thank you from the bottom of our sad hearts. Just need time to try and rebuild our lives, but I’m sure we will bounce back given time.

“Thank you Malton and surrounding areas you are thoughtful folk.”