St Albans pub reopens with outside braai oven after devastating fire
PUBLISHED: 16:42 16 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:42 16 August 2019
A St Albans pub has reopened its doors and is serving food once again following a devastating fire earlier this summer.
At about 4am on July 7, firefighting crews from St Albans, Welwyn Garden City, Borehamwood, Watford, Rickmansworth and Hemel Hempstead rushed to The Plough Sleapshyde to attend a major blaze.
They managed to save the historic thatched roof with minutes to spare and a fire door protected the main pub building, but the kitchen and shed storage area were ravaged by the flames.
A forensics team investigated the incident and found that items taken out of the tumble dryer at 11.30pm the previous evening had spontaneously combusted in a freak accident.
At the time, co-owner Sean Hughes estimated that repair costs would soar into the tens of thousands of pounds. Reconstruction has not yet started because the insurance claim is still being processed.
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In a Facebook post at the time, The Plough owners said: "Thank you all for your support, it is incredible how everyone has been so kind and it's times like this you think how lucky we are that [co-owner] Tim and [Tim's wife] Rachel escaped safely and how we are so lucky to live in a country with such amazing fire services that are beyond exceptional and should never be taken for granted."
The establishment is now back open and serving a full menu using an outside braai coal barbecue. This is a type of barbecue which is popular in South Africa and can double up as an oven.
Tim Hughes, who was in the building when the fire started, said: "We lost so much stuff, the whole kitchen and outbuildings and we now have to collate a list of what was lost for the insurance - it is going to be a bit of a process.
"But we have a beautiful, fresh menu - although we have never had freezer food - and there is a beautiful garden to enjoy it in with a cover if it is bad weather.
"It is a nice place to cycle or walk or drive out to and enjoy our outside menu."
Although The Plough began serving food around two weeks after the fire, Tim said lots of customers are still assuming the pub is closed.
The building was refurbished and reopened by its current ownership about a year ago.