THE owner of a Kendal golf club has paid tribute to fire crews and staff who 'snatched victory from the jaws of defeat'.

Alarm spread throughout the town on Easter Sunday afternoon as plumes of smoke were billowing from Carus Green Golf Club on Burneside Road and fire engines were spotted rushing to the scene.

Around 80 diners were enjoying Sunday lunch in the restaurant when a fire was spotted outside the back of the building by one of the club chefs.

Club owner Graham Curtin admitted he feared the worst on arrival five minutes after being alerted.

"The swift action of the Cumbria fire service probably saved the building", he said.

"It was spotted at 3.30pm and the fire crews were here at about 3.38pm.

"If they’d been another 10 minutes, it might have been a very different story, because it was literally just getting hold.

"The staff were also instrumental, they got everybody out safe in seconds.

"It had started outside the building but to make it very difficult, instead of being a big fire outside, it was between the cladding and the insulation, so we think it was possibly a cigarette, because there's no electrics, there’s nothing else there, there's nothing it can be.

"We've looked at CCTV and there's no pile of rubbish or leaves or anything so we think somehow an ember has jumped into a little hole.

“The truth is we don't know as the fire officer's looked at it thoroughly.

"It started outside and went up the side of the building, affecting the restaurant and the function suite.

"There were at least six fire engines – from Kendal, Ambleside, Windermere, and the big crane from Barrow.

"There must have been 20 or 30 firemen here – it was full-on.

"The lads were all here with their breathing packs on, you could see both floors were just thick with smoke, and I thought well, that's that, but within ten minutes they'd turned it round and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

The Westmorland Gazette: CCTV image of the building 'thick with smoke'CCTV image of the building 'thick with smoke' (Image: Graham Curtin)

"It was very good to see, when, with all the strikes and everything else, there are public servants doing their job incredibly professionally."

Graham also said that fire protocols already in place at the club played a huge part in limiting the blaze's damage.

He said: "All the work we put in with the fire brigade previously, work with building control to make sure all the cladding, plasterboard, and paint is fireproof, all this has done its job.

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"All this has stopped this from being a huge disaster.

"When you do all these things, and you think it's a bit onerous and costly, but if you don't have that, it just goes up like a matchbox.

"This proves the point how important it is to have all these things in place."

The club is already largely, 'running as normal', according to Graham, and is confident that a planned event with the town mayor will go ahead successfully on Friday thanks to the work of local tradesmen.

He said: "It's made a real mess but we've been at work at it since Monday morning, with structural engineers, builders, electricians, plumbers, everybody, so the main restaurant is now partially open.

The Westmorland Gazette: Local builders are working hard to restore the buildingLocal builders are working hard to restore the building (Image: Graham Curtin)

"Obviously the course and everything else has remained open throughout apart from when the fire brigade cordoned it off.

"It's a story of resilience, with it being the mayor, and local people working on it.

"Steve Selby's my builder, who project manages all these disasters we seem to have.

"So he's heading up the team that is putting everything together at record pace.

"I don't want to say we've been lucky, because we've been incredibly unlucky, but for something as serious as this, to have had as little impact as it has on the business, is extraordinary, thanks to the efforts of everyone involved."