STAFF tackled a burning curtain at York’s Grand Opera House with fire extinguishers after a cleaner raised the alarm - potentially averting a much more serious blaze.

A spokeswoman said yesterday that the cleaner was working in the auditorium clearing up after Wednesday’s matinee performance of Rock of Ages when he noticed that the curtain was on fire.

The building was evacuated and staff started using extinguishers on the fire, preventing it spreading and becoming a much bigger blaze.

Wednesday evening’s show was cancelled but last night’s performance - for which 400 people had already booked tickets - was able to go ahead after a full assessment was carried out.

“The show must go on and the show will go on!” she quipped.

She said the velvet curtain had been removed and would be replaced in time, but its absence would not matter for this week’s show.

She stressed that a fire resistant stage curtain was not affected.

She said there was a ‘slight odour’ left in the auditorium from the fire but the doors had been kept open all day to air the building and reduce the smell, and she didn’t think it would cause customers any problems.

She said people who missed Wednesday night’s performance could either get tickets for another night or a refund, and staff were ringing customers to explain the situation.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said the curtains caught fire after electrical lighting suffered a ‘glitch.’

It said crews from York, Acomb, Huntington and Selby responded to the call at 5.40pm, and found staff at the building using extinguishers on the fire.

But crews also used hose reels on the fire and a fan to ventilate the building, and the fire caused damage to curtains and cabling insulation.

The theatre spokeswoman thanked customers for their patience, adding that Rock of Ages will continue until this Saturday. Rock of Ages is a dukebox musical featuring 80s rock from the likes of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard.

*Next Wednesday, the Grand Opera House will stage Burn the Floor, starring Strictly Come Dancing favourite Kevin Clifton.