TWO men have been hailed as heroes after rescuing two children from a blazing pub in Aldershot's town centre just after midnight on Sunday.

Taxi driver Jim Lyons and an unnamed soldier risked their lives to reach the terrified girls who were trapped after an evil arsonist set light to the Saints and Sinners pub in Station Road.

Mr Lyons, 34, who works for Rushmoor Taxis, was sitting in his cab a short distance away when he was alerted by two women who had seen the children shouting for help from an upstairs window.

"The women were frantic," he said on Monday. "Myself and another man managed to put a window through and get into the building.

"I got up to the first floor and passed the children out through a window. I don't consider myself a hero. Anyone would have done the same."

Police and fire chiefs praised both men who could now be in line for bravery awards.

Detective Sergeant Alan Hastings, of Aldershot CID, said the incident may well have ended in tragedy had it not been for their quick actions.

"The pub was full of smoke and they risked their lives by going in there," he said.

Both girls, aged nine and 12, were unharmed, but Mr Lyons and the soldier were treated at Frimley Park Hospital for smoke inhalation and cuts.

The pub, which closed three weeks ago, is currently being renovated, and the younger girl and her mother live in the flat above.

At the time of the blaze the mother was out and the older girl was staying for the night.

Police have appealed for help in capturing the arsonist who started the blaze by pouring petrol in the bar area.

Anyone who saw suspicious activity near the pub late on Saturday is asked to contact Aldershot CID on 0845 045 45 45.