A holidaymaker in Ingoldmells alerted sleeping caravanners around him when he saw thick black smoke gushing from a blazing shop unit nearby.
Billy Ryan, who is staying with his family in a caravan behind a row of shops below Buddies Bar in Sea Lane, said: “I came out for a cigarette and noticed the smoke. It was really black and I rang the fire brigade and started banging on the other caravan doors.
“We let the children take cover in our caravan out of the cold. They just played and weren’t worried at all.”
One of the mums who took shelter in the caravan with her children spoke of the moment just after 11pm last night that she realised something was wrong. She said: “I was trying to get to sleep and then started to smell smoke.
“I looked outside and it was pitch black and my partner went to see if we had to evacuate the caravan.
“Then a man from a caravan at the back let us go in there – he was so kind. We finally got back into our caravan just after 1am.”
Today, a clearing up operation has begun at the gutted shop unit and Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue were expected to continue investigations into what caused the fire.
Four crews from Skegness, Wainfleet, Alford and Boston were called to the scene at 11.50pm, leaving at 2am. Although the unit was completely gutted, businesses nearby were counting their blessings the fire had not spread further.
Eloise Wickes, manager of the Hollywood Bar, said: “There were customers on the decking which is right next to the shop when the fire started. It seemed to go up in minutes and you couldn’t see through the smoke it was so thick and black.
“We evacuated everyone from the decking and inside. Flames were going up the side of the building and we were afraid it would spread here.
“Someone went up to Buddies Bar to tell people to get out and the customers were panicking. There was a lot of panic from the caravans at the back, too, because the smoke spread there.
“But the Fire Service was brilliant. We are so lucky the fire didn’t spread to us.”
Also counting their blessings are Jamie Dalby and Carly Hussey, who have just opened Fat jack’s Diner which is the other side of the wall where the fire started.
Jamie said: “I got a call from the Fire Brigade about 1.30am and went down because they wanted to check the damage.
“They feared the fire might come through the wall but apart from some smoke everything was fine. We were saved by the brick wall.
“We’ve only just opened so it would have been a huge blow to us after moving from Leicester if the fire had spread, especially after the quiet week with the weather.”