TWO brave supermarket workers who persuaded a suicidal man not to turn himself into a human fireball have been declared 'heroes'.
Richard Bartley and Rob Lark, who work at Safeway in Chester, saw the depressed man soak himself in lighter fuel and threaten to torch himself.
They knew their lives were at risk but bravely stayed with the man, chatting to him until the police arrived.
The un-named man was talked into handing over his cigarette lighter, and taken away for psychiatric assessment.
Graham Sutherland, manager of the Bache store, spoke of his staff's bravery.
'My two staff were heroes, they acted above and beyond the call of duty.
Potentially they could have all gone up in flames.
'It was the most frightening sight to see,' he added.
Checkout manager Mr Bartley, 55, of Blackeys Lane, Neston, was outside the back of the store talking to wholesalers.
He said: 'This guy beckoned me across. He had a can of lighter fluid in one hand and a cigarette lighter in the other.
'He said he was going to cover himself in this and set fire to himself. I said 'Come on, it's not worth it', then we sat on a wall and had a chat.'
Mr Bartley ran into the store to call police. He returned to find grocery manager Mr Lark, from Chester, talking to the man.
'He was in a sunken area with a tree near the store. Rob climbed over the wall leading to this dell from one side, I climbed down the other side.
'The man covered himself in the lighter fluid and dropped the can, which I grabbed,' said Mr Bartley.
'He had his lighter ready, with his thumb on the button. We were telling him not to do it.
'The man was calm, there was no violence towards us. It was clear he was depressed and in a bad way.
'He said life wasn't worth living but we talked him out of doing anything. We were both very cautious as we didn't want him to go up,' said Mr Bartley.
The police then arrived and the man handed over his lighter.
No-one was harmed in the 10-minute drama and the store was not damaged. If there had been a fire, it is unlikely to have spread to the store anyway.
Both Mr Bartley and Mr Lark were shaken by their ordeal, but went straight back to work.
Mr Bartley said: 'It would be very nice to know this guy isn't going to do anything like that again, but I'm just glad we were able to stop him harming himself.'
Police spokesman Brenda Cowling said: 'We took the man to West Cheshire Hospital for assessment.'