A BUSINESS owner described the nerve-racking moment he was asked to evacuate his cafe as an unpredictable wildfire drew closer.

Simon Clemence has part owned the Ponderosa Cafe, based on the Horseshoe Pass in Llangollen, for the last 35 years - running it with the help of joint managers Dyfan Parry and his son Samuel Clemence.

He told the Leader of the unbelievable moment emergency service workers advised that the cafe be evacuated on Saturday due to the advancing smoke and flames from a wildfire which began in Llantysilio more than a week earlier.

The blaze was first reported to North Wales Fire and Rescue Service on Thursday, July 19, and firefighters have continued to battle the flames throughout the weekend.

Mr Clemence told the Leader: "It started in Llantysilio but with everything being so dry, it is perfect conditions for things to catch fire.

"From Thursday onwards it has crept towards the cafe and the police and firefighters have kept us informed.

"When the wind started blowing West on Friday it was fanning the flames towards us and that is when it became quite serious.

"I have never seen smoke like it - it was like a swirling, acrid fog and the visibility was so poor that you could hardly see five or ten feet in front of you.

"It was a very dangerous situation. The police asked us to evacuate so my son and Dyfan, who both live there, have had to come and stay with me at my home in Llandegla."

Mr Clemence praised the hard work of police officers and firefighters, adding he believes the closure of the Horseshoe pass was 'absolutely the right thing to do'.

He continued: "We thought the worst - the fire was raging and it was right across the road from the cafe.

"But they had fire engines right the way across the road because they didn't want it to 'leap' across to the cafe.

"Fortunately luck smiled on us and we had rain from about 5am on Saturday morning - that was a godsend because it helped to damp everything down.

"I dread to think what would have happened if it hadn't rained."

Numerous fire crews have continued to battle the flames over the weekend, as well as tackling hotspots and protecting fire breaks (measures such as trenches put in place to prevent flames spreading).

In recent days readers have reported seeing and smelling the smoke across Denbighshire, Wrexham, Flintshire and Chester.

A spokesman for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service told the Leader that the affected area had reached 250 hectares by Friday night.

Readers took to the Leader's Facebook page to praise the hard work of the firefighters, with one Facebook user dubbing the crews 'heroes'.

Michaela Lloyd posted: "Thank you to all the firefighters for still battling this," while Tracey Underhill added: "Well done to the firefighters for their continuous hard work and everyone else involved. Please keep safe."

Gillian Edwards said: "They must be shattered. Well done to them all," and Kathy Nadin said: "Those firefighters are amazing, and those looking after them."

Bryn Venables added: "Some welcome wet weather for you firefighters. Keep up the good work."