Sidmouth hotel blaze was ‘lucky escape’- firefighters

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 January 2011

Fire at The Fortfield Hotel in Sidmouth on the 30th December 2010. Pictures by Terry Ife ref shs 6265-52-10TI

Fire at The Fortfield Hotel in Sidmouth on the 30th December 2010. Pictures by Terry Ife ref shs 6265-52-10TI

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SIDMOUTH had a lucky escape from an unstoppable inferno that would have engulfed all of the Fortfield Hotel and endangered nearby homes- say brave firefighters who battled flames for hours.

SIDMOUTH had a lucky escape from an unstoppable inferno that would have engulfed all of the Fortfield Hotel and endangered nearby homes- say brave firefighters who battled flames for hours.

Fire chiefs say they could have been left powerless to stop the blaze had several factors all not gone in their favour.

Group commander Adge Tilke, whose emergency plan was implemented when fire broke out, said it was fortunate the blaze happened on the top floor and there was no wind to fan the flames.

The inferno burned in the only part of the hotel where firefighters could position crucial hydraulic platforms.

“Because of these things, we were able to put our plan into action,” said Mr Tilke

“That plan came together very well. If it hadn’t, there was every chance of the fire getting away from us. It was fully developed by the time we arrived and had the opportunity to spread.

“If the whole building was to become involved it would be very hard to fight. Because of its proximity to other properties, we would have little opportunity to control the fire in the way we would wish to.

“Our concern is the building is completely undivided end to end, top to bottom.

“Any fire starting within can spread fast. Its like one giant crib which will burn very, very quickly.

“We all knew of the conditions inside. Extinguishing a fire there depends on our ability to use aerial platforms. There is no access for these for any other parts of the building.

“We were able to get water onto the fire in significant quantities quickly enough.

“I’m very proud of every crew that turned up that night. We had a plan, knew what to do, and they stuck to it rigidly from arrival.”


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