FIREFIGHTERS from Castle Cary joined crews from across Somerset tackling Yeovil's largest blaze in 12 years on Sunday morning.
They formed part of a team of 16 fire engines called to The Bell Hungry Horse pub in Preston Road, Yeovil. It took crews four hours to bring the fire under control.
Police also attended to assist with road closures, while ambulance crews were kept on stand-by.
Devon and Somerset Fire Service received 11 calls from the public at around 4.20am alerting them to the blaze, group manager Paul Cregan said.
He praised firefighters for the bravery they showed risking their lives searching for people in the burning pub.
Flames ripped through the ground and first floors and broke through the roof at the rear of the building.
Crews used six main jets, two aerial ladder platforms, and one hose reel jet, backed by hydrants and a water carrier, to extinguish the flames.
Mr Cregan praised the other emergency services who provided support, as well as the local community. He said the last time he saw a fire on such a scale was 12 years ago.
Investigators are working to establish the cause but the work could take a few weeks given the dangerous state of the building.
Vikki Farrar, who lives opposite the pub, said: "I couldn't believe how quickly the fire spread.
"There were a few explosions and parts of the roof collapsed. Once I knew no one was inside or hurt I was concerned that the fire would spread across the road.
"The emergency services were so calm and contained the fire. It was really impressive."
Witness Geoff Collins said: "The smoke was so thick you couldn't see the pub."
The owner of The Bell, Greene King, said it hopes to re-deploy staff to other establishments until the pub is rebuilt.