Tireless Sidmouth firefighters battle Exeter blaze for 15 hours
- Credit: Archant
Huge thank you for kind gestures of support
Sidmouth firefighters worked tirelessly for more than 15 hours to battle the blaze that destroyed Exeter’s historic Royal Clarence hotel – with many then going back to their day jobs.
Station commander Steve Crabb described the immense community goodwill that helped rally crews as they fought in tough conditions to get ‘the biggest fire he has ever seen in the city’ under control.
The first Sidmouth appliance was alerted to assist Exeter firefighters at 5.30am on Friday (October 28) after the blaze broke out in an art gallery on Cathedral Green. A second crew from the town was on the scene by 9am.
A large section of Exeter city centre was cordoned off as firefighters battled flames that gutted a number of historic buildings.
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Steve said: “I’m a full-time firefighter and it’s the biggest fire I have ever seen in the city. The impact was obvious straight away due to the nature of the cordons in place and local businesses being closed. We have all been to big jobs, but this one was very significant.
“There were about 10 of us and we all started at 5.30am on Friday and got back at 9pm - so it was a 15-hour day. A relief crew was alerted again at 5.30am on Sunday.
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“We were involved in command support and assisting logistically. We have been doing high volume pumping in rolling shifts of 12 hours.
“It is physically exhausting because most of the guys have nine-to-five jobs - and to be working throughout the night and still have to do their day jobs is very tiring. It is an exceptional job. The crews acted very professionally we are still doing ongoing work.
“Everybody that has been on duty from Sidmouth was involved at some point over the last five days. I appreciate their hard work and commitment – it makes my life a lot easier, they have been excellent.”
Steve said businesses in Exeter provided much-appreciated support and food for firefighters on the scene.
He also added a huge thank-you for the generous gesture of two ladies, known only as Julie and Annabell, who left a box of sandwiches and cake on the doorstep of Sidmouth Fire Station with a message of thanks.
Recovery work has now started on Cathedral Green and the strategic demolition of the fire-ravaged shell of the Royal Clarence has begun.