A RESTAURATEUR who had a kitchen severely damaged in a blaze has praised the swift actions of the security guard who helped save his building.
Krimo Bouabda was on holiday in Spain when his son, Adam, rang him to say his beloved Portofino eaterie, on Hartlepool’s marina, was on fire.
Warm tea towels left on top of a dryer had set alight and the flames had soon spread through the kitchen at 2am on March 3.
But Kevin Mason, a security guard patrolling Hartlepool Marina, was quickly alerted to the problem as the heat melted a burglar sensor that triggered an alarm.
Thanks to the 53-year-old’s speedy reactions, firefighters were on the scene in minutes and the building was saved.
Mr Bouabda tracked down Mr Mason to thank him personally for his role – and to offer him free meals.
Mr Bouabda, who put an advert in the Mail to publicly thank Mr Mason, said: “Without the quick reactions of Kevin Mason and the emergency services I dread to think what might have happened.
“I’ve told Kevin that he is welcome to come for a free meal whenever he wants, we owe him one. Sadly my holiday was spoiled by what happened, but it could have been worse.”
Despite the praise, modest Mr Mason told the Mail he was just “doing his job”.
The dad of one, from Mainsforth Terrace, Hartlepool, said: “It was just luck really on my behalf, I was in the right place at the right time.
“I heard the alarm going off and went around the back lane to see if it was being burgled.
“I saw flames coming from the kitchen so phoned the emergency services.
“The fire brigade was there before I knew it and were very quick in putting it out.”
A vast amount of work has had to be done to Portofino in order to repair fire and smoke damage.
Mr Bouabda, who also runs Krimo’s and Casa Del Mar on the marina, while Adam runs Flix Movie Cafe, in Church Square, was full of praise for the local companies who did the work.
He added: “We had quotes from big national companies but they were enormous.
“We used the local firms we usually work with and they did a brilliant job.
“We are lucky to have such people right on our doorstep.”