Fire rips through Wall Heath Hickory's Smokehouse restaurant

media captionFire rips through Black Country restaurant Hickory's

A severe fire has ripped through the thatched roof of an "iconic" building where The Beatles once played.

At its height, 100 firefighters tackled the blaze at Hickory's Smokehouse restaurant in Wall Heath, Dudley - a Grade II listed former nightclub.

Guests from the Kingfisher Hotel next door were evacuated at about 02:00 BST.

Firefighters are damping down but some of the roof has collapsed into the restaurant, West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service said.

Staff at the restaurant, which opened less than a year ago, tweeted that nobody was injured.

"It's an iconic building, it was built in the 1930s, it was Grade II listed," said station commander Wayne Little.

"The Beatles played here in the 1960s.

"Gerry and the Pacemakers [played here]"

He said the fire was "very difficult" to put out because thatch is designed to keep water out but is highly flammable.

image copyrightTwitter
image captionThe restaurant said it was awaiting results of an investigation by the fire service

The A449 Kidderminster Road has been closed, causing severe traffic delays in the area.

It is shut in both directions between the A4101 Lodge Lane junction and the B4178 Swindon Road junction.

image copyright@rusgauden/West Midlands Fire Service
image captionFourteen fire engines were sent to tackle the blaze

Crews from across the county were called in to tackle the fire.

Nearby residents have been told to keep their windows shut.

Messages of support have flooded in for the restaurant on social media. One read: "Loved the food, sure we'll see you guys back up and running asap!"

image copyrightTwitter
image copyrightTwitter

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