Senior fire officer Rob Evans has praised staff at Sainsbury’s for preventing a potential disaster after a fuel tanker caught fire on its garage forecourt.

Staff members Lyn Hall and Warren Entwistle leapt into action on Friday when flames were seen coming from the tanker’s engine compartment at 8.45am.

They helped to save the Bath Road store, which re-opened last month after nearly ten weeks of refurbishment work, by shutting pumps down and extinguishing the fire. They also ensured the tanker was towed away, rather than risk restarting its engine.

Three fire crews were called, from Chippenham, Calne and Corsham, but thanks to Mrs Hall and Mr Entwistle only the fire crew from Chippenham needed to stay to mop up and identify the fault in the engine.

Mr Evans, fire crew manager for Chippenham, was so impressed by the staff members’ actions he wrote to Wiltshire’s chief fire officer Simon Routh-Jones praising their quick thinking, which, he said, stopped a ‘potential disaster’.

He said: “When we turned up it was everything we wanted, they had done everything for us. The forecourt was cordoned off with cones and they evacuated members of the public.

“They said there were flames and there was a bit of molten mess on the floor but the fire was already extinguished so we just located where the fire was. The most likely cause is a defect in the starter motor.

“They did everything in a nice calm manner and they acted professionally – it was brilliant because they averted a serious situation.”

The deputy manager of the Sainsbury’s store, Dave Owen, said he was proud of both members of staff whose actions meant the forecourt was up and running again within 20 minutes. Mrs Hall has worked at Sainsbury’s for 25 years and Mr Entwistle has worked there for five years.

Mr Owen said: “One colleague stayed inside to phone the fire brigade and the other went out to deal with the flames with the help of a motorist.

"I was alerted at 8.50pm and by the time I got over there, in less than a minute, the fire was out.

"They had already isolated the forecourt, stopped serving fuel and were in the process of removing the tanker from the site, which fortunately hadn’t started delivering fuel.

" It really does validate the training that we’ve given – obviously this is a specialist part of our business and there is specialist training for an emergency but you never think you’re going to need it.

“They have done exactly what they needed to do without thinking twice. We would like to thank the fire brigade for their support and prompt attendance.”