IT was the last thing restaurateur Frank Rottgering wanted to do at 3am after the busiest evening of the year.

 Frank Rottgering
Frank Rottgering

But the Dutchman’s Valentine’s night turned out to be more red hot than he could ever imagine as he was forced to take on a fire at his Arriate restaurant, El Muelle.

And after putting out the flames, he was left thanking ‘divine intervention’ for saving his business.

“A ball of smoke came straight at me when I opened the door,” said Rottgering, 52.

“I grabbed the fire extinguisher and used it all up. I had to get a second extinguisher to put the whole fire out.”

Watched by two ‘sleepy looking’ Guardia Civil officers – who hadn’t even alerted the fire brigade – Rottgering was left shocked by their lack of action.

“I was too busy taking on the fire to call, but they just stood there watching.”

Thankfully Rottgering was alerted to the fire after two fallen paintings triggered the alarm system which alerted his mobile phone. And the restaurant owner believes a ‘higher power’ must have been at play.

“They were resting above the fire, next to the figure of the Virgin Mary. She must have pushed them from the wall to save my restaurant,” he said.

With VIP guests – including Zanzibar restaurant owner Nick Smallwood – and a Christening party to feed the next day, Rottgering worked through the night to get everything perfect for Sunday service.

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