THE landlord of a pub popular with Manchester United fans hopes it will re-open in time for the new season after a major fire.

The blaze at the Gorse Hill in Stretford was spotted by a member of staff who was opening up the Chester Road pub at 11.15am on Sunday.

Three people managed to escape and were treated on scene by ambulance crews for minor smoke inhalation.

Landlord Andy Seale said the fire ravaged the kitchen and spread quickly to other rooms.

Mr Seale said: “It’s pretty bad. The damage is quite extensive and there’s some serious structural damage.

“The ceiling has come down in one of the rooms where the firefighters were battling the blaze and most of the furnishings are ruined.”

The pub is popular with Manchester United fans on matchdays and Mr Seale is eager to reopen in time for the new season in August.

“It is going to be a while before we are back on our feet.

“But we are going to try and re-open in time for the start of the football season.

“We’ve had incredible support from the community and some of our tradesmen regulars have volunteered to help us rebuild.

“We’re going to be like the phoenix that rises from the ashes.

“We look forward to opening our doors again soon.”

Mr Seale said all six permanent members of staff will be paid a full wage until the pub reopens.

Fire crews from Stretford, Salford, Sale and Moss Side attended and 13 firefighters entered the building to bring the blaze under control.

A major response unit and a hydraulic platform were also deployed to fight the fire.