A pub manager has been hailed a hero after helping guests escape safely from a fire caused by an arson attack.
Andrew Ward, manager of the Wadworth owned Talbot Hotel in Ledbury, Herefordshire, was watching TV in his room above the pub when he saw flames raging outside the building in the early hours of Saturday.
He said: "I was watching a film and smelled something strange. When I opened the window and saw smoke rising outside, I could see the reflection of the fire in the shop windows opposite."
Andrew rushed to alert sleeping wife Maria and the pair roused their eight sleeping guests.
"Maria started running around in her bathrobe and slippers trying to evacuate guests and I rang the fire brigade and set off the alarm," he said.
"I was totally petrified. But we knew we had to get people out. They were not really with it and we had to be firm and tell people to leave their things and get them to come with us."
He attributed his quick-thinking to his attendance on a training course run by Wadworth.
When he led people down the fire escape, he discovered his car had been deliberately set on fire. After the building had been evacuated the fire spread and gutted the pub.
Andrew said: "If I had been in the back of the building and had not seen the fire we would probably all be dead."
Paul Sullivan, marketing manager at Wadworth, said: "It appears that it is down to the courage and quick thinking of Andrew and his team that has meant that this is not a far more tragic event.
"Unfortunately it appears that the significant damage will mean that The Talbot will be shut for at least a month whilst repairs are made."
A 21-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the attack.