South Tyneside’s council leader has said councillors are calling for pressure to be put on the owners of the fire-hit former Whitburn Lodge Pub to demolish the building.
The derelict site in Mill Lane was left gutted by a New Year’s Day blaze which destroyed large sections of the roof and caused extensive damage inside.
Crews spent several hours bringing the inferno under control after it broke out around 4.30pm, eventually declaring it “completely extinguished” at about 11.40pm.
At the latest meeting of East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum (CAF) on Thursday (January 5), council leader Councillor Tracey Dixon praised the efforts of firefighters in battling the blaze.
Cllr Dixon represents the Whitburn and Marsden ward where the ex-hostelry is located, and stressed councillors are looking to put pressure on the owners of the site to demolish and make safe what remains.
She said: “Ward members have actively been contacting the officers within the council with regard to the ownership of the site to see what pressure can we put on those to demolish the Whitburn Lodge, because it’s a real concern for ward members.
“We don’t feel it is safe and something does need to be done with regards to that site in particular.”
She added: “It had a huge, huge turnout from Tyne and Wear fire and rescue and I’d just like to place on record our thanks for the rapid response and what they actually did in trying to put the fire out but also make the area safe.”
In total, six appliances and 22 firefighters attended the incident including crews from South Shields, Sunderland Central and Marley Park.
Fire chiefs were also forced to revisit the scene in the days following after reports of a “small amount of smoke coming from the building”.
A Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said this “was a precautionary measure that the service sometimes undertakes after an incident of this magnitude.”
Cllr Dixon also noted they “can’t speculate” on what happened around the fire but they hope to bring an update to a future CAF meeting.
The building has been left vacant for several years and had fallen into a state of disrepair after closing its doors to pub customers back in 2012.