A man trapped in a burning pub was plucked to safety by workmen using the bucket of a mechanical digger.

The four builders sprang into action when they smelled burning as they drank at the Wuthering Heights Inn, Stanbury, last night.

They tried to reach 41-year-old Tim Pickles by the stairs, but after being beaten back by smoke and heat, they climbed on to a single storey roof and smashed a window to get to him.

Meanwhile another man rushed to a nearby builders' yard and drove a mechanical grabber to the pub and lowered Mr Pickles 12ft to the ground.

Now the four men, Philip Dodsworth, his sons John and Edward and their friend Melvin Thorley, from Beverley, near Hull, are to be recommended for commendations by Keighley Fire Service.

Today Mr Pickles, an assistant gardener at Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley, spoke of his terrifying ordeal. He was trapped by flames in his bedroom as he watched football on television after fire broke out in a bathroom.

He said: "Everything went out, the lights went off and I smelled the smoke. I started to panic and I was coughing.

"Then I heard muffled voices outside the window. It smashed and they called me over and helped me out.

"It was very frightening. I've never experienced anything like it before and I don't want to again."

His cousin, landlord Roger Mitchell, 49, was in the bar when a customer told him he could smell plastic burning.

"I went upstairs but as soon as I got up I saw flames flying out of the bathroom," he said. "It was like an oven.

"My cousin Tim who is mentally handicapped was in his bedroom but I couldn't get anywhere near it."

Mr Mitchell, who runs the pub with his 47-year-old wife Barbara praised the quick actions of the men who rescued his cousin.

Melvyn Thorley, 45, said: "We were having a meal when the chef came in to ask if everything was OK. We said it was but was there a chip pan on fire as we could smell burning?

"He went in to have a look and there was nothing but next to the kitchen door that leads up to the bedroom there was smoke coming billowing in.

"John's a professional boxer and when he got up on the roof he tried to smash the window with his fists but to no avail. Eventually we had to use a lump of concrete. Tim was shouting and screaming, he was very frightened.

"There had been some telephone engineers working nearby and we asked someone to go and get the grabber and we brought him down in the bucket which we wrapped in blankets. Phil came down with him because Tim was a bit overcome.

"We've been staying there for five months working on a nearby reservoir as sub-contractors for Yorkshire Water and so we'd got to know him really well. We'd got really friendly with him. He is a nice bloke."

Fire fighter Jo O'Keefe said: "These four chaps without a shadow of a doubt have saved this man's life and Arthur Atkinson who was in charge of the incident will be putting them for forward for commendation.

"It was well alight when we arrived and the bathroom, where the fire started, was heavily smoke logged on the first floor.

"There is nothing to suggest that there was anything suspicious about the cause of the fire and our fire investigation team is looking into it.

"We sent two pumps from Keighley and the blaze was under control within 15 minutes. Everything on the first floor was damaged by smoke and these men's clothes were damaged so they went back to Beverley."

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