Thousands spent tackling Sidmouth Fortfield inferno

PUBLISHED: 18:06 08 January 2011

Fire at The Fortfield Hotel in Sidmouth on the 30th December 2010. Pictures by Terry Ife ref shs 6195-52-10TI

Fire at The Fortfield Hotel in Sidmouth on the 30th December 2010. Pictures by Terry Ife ref shs 6195-52-10TI

Archant

MORE than 80 firefighters battled flames as an inferno at Sidmouth’s derelict Fortfield Hotel reached its height last Thursday.

MORE than 80 firefighters battled flames as an inferno at Sidmouth’s derelict Fortfield Hotel reached its height last Thursday.

It is estimated emergency services’ desperate five-hour bid to tackle the blaze cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Thirty per cent of the building’s roof and top floor and ten per cent of its third floor were severely damaged by the flames.

Rescuers worked well into the next day to reduce the risk of further fire.

More than 30 shocked onlookers dialed 999 when smoke and flames erupted.

Sidmouth came to a standstill from around 4pm as stunned nearby residents looked on as the inferno engulfed part of the four-storey property- which fire chiefs deemed too dangerous for crews to enter.

Flames had taken hold of the premises when the first fire crews arrived.

At the scene, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service group manager Adge Tilke told the Herald: “The building is known to us and it has been too risky to commit firefighters into the hotel because of its poor state of repair. We have been restricted to fire fighting from the outside using water jets and hydraulic platforms.”

Two 160 feet tall hydraulic ladders were crucial in combating flames. Eleven pumps and five specialist appliances attended the incident.

Police shut The Esplanade as fire crews pumped water in hoses for more than a mile from the River Sid.

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

A close eye was kept on the recently re-thatched £45,000 roof at Sidmouth Cricket Club as a precaution.

Brave firefighters from Sidmouth, Ottery and most of East Devon were involved in the effort.

Massive flames that threatened to engulf the entire derelict former hotel were quelled at around 10pm.

“We’ve been extremely lucky the fire started on the top floor. If it had happened on the floor below it would have been a very different scenario,” added Mr Tilke.


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