A Chorley landlord says he is lucky to be alive after thieves stole gas pipes from the side of his pub.
Disaster at the Hop Pocket on Carr Lane was narrowly averted when a passer-by alerted police to a strong smell of gas in the area just after midnight yesterday morning.
On inspection, they discovered five metres of copper gas pipes had been taken from the building and quickly evacuated landlord Daniel Swanton who was sleeping upstairs – and unaware his pub could explode at any second.
Daniel, 27, who runs the pub owned by brother Stuart, 29, said: “I got woken up by police banging on the door.
“They told me someone had snapped the gas pipe off the back.
“It had been escaping for 20 minutes before anyone knew anything.
“I smoke and if I had woken up and gone to the back door and lit a cigarette I would definitely have known about it.”
The pair took over the pub in November and closed on Tuesday for a major overhaul to begin.
They say despite the knock-back they are determined to get on with the work, which includes a new dining area and terrace.
Daniel said: “With just getting a refurbishment we were really excited and this has knocked us a bit.
“Because it is copper it was easy enough for them to snap off.
“It was a lot of damage and hassle for something that they will only get about £30 for.
“It could have ended a lot differently so I was very lucky.”
Brother Stuart said: “It if wasn’t for someone tipping off the police that gas was leaking we wouldn’t have known and I might not be speaking to my brother.
“It was incredibly scary when I got the phone call.”
The incident happened at around 12.12pm on Thursday morning.
CCTV images show a 16 to 17-year-old male with brown hair and dark, baggy clothing.
A spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: “We received a call from a member of the public to say gas was escaping in the area.
“Copper gas piping had been taken from the exterior wall of the Hop Pocket by someone using a chair from the beer garden.
“This type of theft can be particularly dangerous and the potential consequences should not be underestimated.
“We would urge anyone with information or anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”