Opening night as staff return to blaze-hit bar

Staff from Walkabout before the reopening and (below) deputy manager Alicia Doodson in her new flat.

Staff from Walkabout before the reopening and (below) deputy manager Alicia Doodson in her new flat.

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Staff who escaped a blaze which tore through a Blackpool bar where they lived and worked have been reunited - and want nothing more than to get back to pulling pints.

The devastated workers were left homeless – some with nothing more than the clothes on their back – by the fire at Walkabout, on Queen Street, on June 19.

Deputy manager Alicia Doodson in her new flat.

Deputy manager Alicia Doodson in her new flat.

But eight of the 13 people affected are now back in their new-look accommodation above the bar and said they were itching to get back to work when the venue opens its doors for the first time in four months tonight.

Several of them were posted at other Walkabout bars across the country, while some went back to their native Australia.

Deputy manager Alicia Doodson, originally from Brisbane, found work in Manchester, Sheffield, Burnley and Wigan while the venue was being refurbished but says she’s glad to be back.

The 29-year-old said: “The fire was absolutely terrifying. Immediately, we just wanted to make sure everyone that was inside got out.

“At 5am we got woken up by a fire and then left with just what we were wearing, but the company was awesome and we got money to get some clothes.

“Blackpool as a community really did help us out too.

“We are like a big family here – everyone is there for each other – and now it’s a new venue and a new beginning.”

Click here to see how The Gazette reported the fire: INVESTIGATION INTO BLACKPOOL BAR BLAZE

Another staff member, Vincent Decker, 26, said: “ I think a lot of people can’t wait for it to open so they can start coming back. The new bar looks way better.”

Michelle Park, 23, said:“This will be the new place to go in Blackpool.”

Cause of blaze thought to be an illuminated sign

The electrical fire at Walkabout is thought to have started in an illuminated sign around at 5.20am on June 19, turning life upside down for the 13 people living upstairs.

Once the blaze was out, bosses were left facing the huge task of getting the popular venue back open.

But after a £4m revamp, aimed at giving the bar a more up-market image, the venue is ready to open its doors again.

Boasting a new terrace and an improved menu, staff are confident the bar will be a hit with revellers.

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