Demolition crews tackle fire-ravaged Fortfield Hotel

VIDEO SPECIAL: Parts of unsafe, blaze-hit Sidmouth property knocked down

DEMOLITION crews have descended on Sidmouth’s dangerous and fire-ravaged Fortfield Hotel today (Friday, February 4).

Structural experts this week said bits of the blaze-hit premises are so volatile it’s unsafe for anyone other than qualified demolition crews to be on site.

Kim Slowe, managing director of would-be Fortfield developer ZeroC, told the Herald as it went to press yesterday: “A contractor has been appointed and a meeting will take place with East Devon District Council (EDDC) on Friday.

“I can only say sufficient parts of the building will be demolished to make it safe.

“The building has stability problems. There is no risk to anybody if they don’t go through the security fence,” he added.

Mr Slowe said he hoped work would be carried out “within a week.”

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An EDDC spokesperson added: “We can reassure residents they are safe and that hotel walls, or other pieces of masonry, won’t fall on them or their properties.

“The building and compound is hazardous. The main risk is to anyone entering the site.

“Our building control manager considers local residents are generally not at risk and he is happy to meet with them to discuss specific concerns.

“The building control manager is meeting with Zero C agents and demolition contractors of the owner’s choice on Friday to assess the extent of damage.

“We hope to agree with contractors what to demolish- for example- all parts of the building that present a hazard.

“The aim is to achieve a site safe for authorised people to enter, with a secure boundary fence as before.

“We will take advice about security from the police.

“EDDC would like to reiterate it is the responsibility of the owner to make the site safe.

“Legal powers that councils have are limited and, in this case, it is regrettable that we could not have stepped in sooner to require demolition.

“We will be writing to the Government to ask they review legislation and maybe strengthen our hand.”

Site owner Andrew Torjussen said he had no further comment to make.