FORTFIELD INFERNO- Sidmouth hotel blaze

BREAKING NEWS: Firefighters tackle flames at derelict Sidmouth hotel

SCORES of firefighters are tackling an inferno at the derelict Fortfield Hotel in Sidmouth.

The town came to a standstill from around 4pm this afternoon (Thursday, December 30) and stunned nearby residents looked on in shock as flames engulfed part of the four storey building.

Around 80 firefighters are currently fighting the blaze at the property.

It is believed no-one was inside the derelict building, which fire chiefs deemed to dangerous for rescue crews to enter.

Two 160feet tall hydraulic ladders are being used to combat flames.

The Esplanade was shut as water was pumped through hoses for more than a mile from the River Sid.

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Six homes were temporarily evacuated and several others covered in protective foam to stop the fire spreading.

Crews were also keeping a close eye on the recently re-thatched �45,000 roof of Sidmouth Cricket Club.

At the scene Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service group manager Adge Tilke told the Herald: “On arrival we found a fire on the fourth floor. This was well developed on the east end.

“The building is known to us and it has been too risky to commit fire fighters inside…. We have been restricted to fire fighting from the outside using water jets ad hydraulic platforms.

“We covered surrounding properties in foam to protect the from radiated heat and we are keeping an eye on the thatched roof of the cricket club.”

Mr Tilke added crews were wary of the inferno “collapsing” onto the floor below and added: “This is a protracted incident that will last well into the night.”

A sell out pantomime at the nearby Manor Pavillion tonight (Thursday) has been cancelled. The Manor Pavillion is not in danger.