Sidmouth blaze hotel unstable and dangerous

Fire chief warns sightseers to steer clear of Fortfield Hotel, Sidmouth

A TEAM of four, led by Adge Tilke, group manager at Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, have accessed the now dangerous Fortfield Hotel to investigate how Thursday’s fire might have started.

Arson has not been ruled out and is one possibility under investigation.

“It was a joint investigation with the fire service and police,” he told the Sidmouth Herald.

“A controlled group of four went in last night and in again today. The building is extremely hazardous to be inside anyway, now it has been made significantly worse.”

He warned youngsters and others who might find it exciting to go inside the hotel to see the fire damage on its fourth floor, to keep out.

“Areas have collapsed inside, making the building unsafe. We had to ascertain that no-one was in there at the time of the fire last night and ensure the fire was out.

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“We could only achieve that by getting up close to the scene.”

He said although the fire service had no direct powers to ensure the property was secured to stop people getting in, he had advised its owner, Andrew Torjussen, to “make every effort to secure it against entry.”

He said ceilings could collapse at any moment.

“It would be a tragedy to have a fatality post-fire because of someone interested in the scene,” he added.