THE OWNER of a 17th-century restaurant ravaged by a major fire this morning has said he nearly lost everything.

Tom Keane, who has been picking up the pieces at The Swan at Tetsworth today, said if firefighters had arrived ten minutes later there might be no pieces left to pick up.

The kitchen of the Grade II-listed building near Milton Common was gutted by the blaze which broke out shortly after midnight, but the rest of the building escaped damage.

Chef Raymond Blanc has previously said the Elizabethan pub is one of his favourite places to spend the day.

Oxford Mail:

Thankfully, the fire was narrowly stopped from spreading to the adjoining antiques centre and its hoard of treasures.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was called to the fire at 12.20am this morning.

Two crews from Thame Fire Station were joined by enginges from Watlington and Oxford.

Oxford Mail:

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus braved the smoke-filled building and managed to stop the fire from spreading to the antiques shop.

Incident commander Paul Webster said: "The sounding of a smoke alarm raised a near-by neighbor who called the fire service.

"Our crews were on the scene very quickly and along with a good routine of closing the doors in the property prevented this incident escalating and fire spreading to the antiques shop.

Oxford Mail:

"This type of incident reminds us all to check our smoke alarms because a fire like this can go undetected so easily and then the losses can be so much greater."

The fire-fighting operation forces the closure of the nearby A40 for several hours.

Thames Valley Police tweeted in the early hours that it was helping with the operation.

Police confirmed this morning that the A40 had fully reopened.

Mr Keane, who has owned the restaurant and antiques centre for four years, said he understood from firefighters that the blaze probably started with a faulty refrigerator.

He said the antiques centre was open for business as normal but the restaurant would take some months to get back up and running.

He said: "Thanfully the fire service were fantastic: they were here within eight minutes, but another five or ten minutes it all could have been gone.

"We are unbelievably happy."