Blaze at former care home deemed deliberate by emergency service
- Credit: Avon Fire and Rescue Service
A fire which tore through a former care home near Weston is thought to have been started deliberately.
Emergency services rushed to the former Willows Care Home, in Kewstoke's Court Road, on Friday morning.
Crews from Weston, Clevedon, Yatton, Kingswood, Avonmouth, Patchway and Temple fire stations were called to the blaze at the 29-bedroom property just after 9am.
Firefighters discovered a fire on the ground floor which quickly spread to the roof.
Eight crew members in breathing apparatus were dispatched to tackle the flames from inside the building, but were forced to withdraw when the roof partially collapsed.
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They then continued to tackle the fire using a turntable ladder, four 45mm jets and two high-pressure hose reels while using a thermal-imaging camera to check for hotspots.
Weston Fire Station manager Pat Foley told the Mercury the fire at the former care home engulfed almost the entire building.
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Western Power Distribution also shut off power to more than 30 homes in the area for more than an hour due to safety concerns while the firefighters went to work.
A fire engine was also stationed at the nearby Pontins holiday resort, which backs onto the property. Its manager said the fire service had warned them it may have needed to drain the resort's swimming pool to tackle the fire - but this was not required.
Police were also in attendance and confirmed no one was in the building at the time of the blaze and there were no casualties.
Once extinguished, a fire investigation dog was used to search the scorched property for the cause of the fire, but crews could not identify any fuel or propellant used to start the fire.
In a statement, Avon Fire & Rescue service said: "The cause of the fire is thought to be deliberate."
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has launched an investigation into the inferno.
Its spokesman added: "Police enquiries are continuing into this incident to establish the cause of the fire."
Court Road resident Andy Baxter, who helped raise the alarm said: "My son had just gone to catch the bus to work at about 9am when he came bursting in and said the building's on fire.
"I went outside and saw the smoke from the old care home and called the fire service.
"It's not something you would expect to wake up to on a Friday morning."