BOSSES of a Farnborough pub, which went up in smoke last week, fear the building may have been the victim of a Friday 13 curse.

That was the day they chose to re-open the doors of the New Inn following a £250,000 refurbishment.

And last Wednesday, less than two weeks later, they saw their pride and joy wrecked by a fire which swept through the building in Hawley Lane.

A spokesman for Greene King, the owners, said: "We re-opened on Friday 13 September, and that was obviously a mistake!"

Customers and staff fled from the two-storey pub as the fire took hold at about 9.10pm.

By the time the first fire crews from Rushmoor arrived the building was well alight.

They were soon joined by fire fighters from more than six stations including Basingstoke and Guildford.

A total of 70 firemen spent almost eight hours tackling the blaze, caused by an electrical fault, which reduced the pub to a charred shell.

One of the first on the scene, Surrey Advertiser chief photographer Steve Porter, said: "When I arrived flames were shooting out of the building.

"The fire seemed to spread very quickly and it was pretty obvious the building was lost."

He added that, as he approached the scene, he could see the glow from the fire a mile away.

Quick action by the fire crews prevented the blaze spreading to an adjoining garage where there was a risk of gas bottles exploding.

Rushmoor Council workmen were also called out to clear drains because water from the firemen's hoses was flooding nearby gardens.

Greene King area manager Simon Kidd praised the way in which staff helped evacuate the building. No-one was injured.

The remains of the building will be demolished, and the company plans to re-build it within six months.