Breaking news: Fire crews battling to save seafront hotel
PUBLISHED: 00:19 26 June 2011 | UPDATED: 00:47 26 June 2011
DOZENS of firefighters are battling to save a seafront hotel in Weston tonight (Sat).
Crews were called to the derelict Bayside Hotel, in Upper Church Road, just before 10.30pm.
When they arrived the first two floors of the building were well ablaze and plumes of thick smoke could be seen from as far as Ashcombe Road in the central Weston.
Crowds of onlookers lined streets around the hotel as eight fire crews struggled to put out the flames.
A witness, who was watching the blaze from her home in Park Place, said: “The fire crews arrived about 10 minutes ago and now I can’t see anything except smoke.
“At 10.50pm two fire engines came past, then two minutes later another two came down.
“There are people out in the street watching what is going on. The smoke is so thick.”
Melany Stevenson, who lives in nearby Knighstone Road, said: “I was in bed when I heard the sirens going and wondered what was going on. I’ve been out here for an hour now.
“It’s just so sad because it was a nice building. It had potential, but it had become derelict.”
The Bayside Hotel has been closed for five years and members of the public had recently called for the site to be emptied of squatters and rats for the sake of public safety.
The hotel, which was opened as the Cairo Lodge in the 1930s, had squatters and wild animals including cats and rats living inside.
The hotel had been set for redevelopment two years ago, but after the previous owner went into liquidation it was sold on by administrators to a new owner earlier this year.
Three weeks ago Avon Fire and Rescue crews were called to the 32-bedroom hotel to tackle a late-night fire believed to have been started by people inside.
It’s too early to tell how tonight’s fire began, but a fire service spokesman told the Mercury: “We were called out to reports of a fire at a derelict hotel.
“We’ve got eight pumping appliances there to supplement the water supply. Because it’s a derelict property we are taking a defensive approach so we are fighting it from the outside.
“We’ve got a turntable ladder with two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus at the top. We’ve also set up a 30-metre cordon around the site. We have no idea how it was started until we carry out a fire investigation tomorrow.”
Ten police officers were also at the scene. Sgt Peter Land said: “The officers are down here closing roads and keeping members of the public back or inside their buildings.
“Nobody has been evacuated yet as it’s a separate building. From what we can see the top two floors at the front are alight.”
The Bayside is the second seafront hotel in Weston to fall victim to fire in the past 12 months.
The Royal Pier Hotel, in Birnbeck Road, was destroyed last October and its ruins demolished shortly afterwards.
* Did you capture tonight’s fire on film? Email your pictures or videos to firstname.lastname@example.org