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Hotel manager describes blaze

PUBLISHED: 13:51 11 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:51 03 July 2010

Dominic Bareham

(DOMINIC BAREHAM)



dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk



A GREAT Yarmouth hotel manager has described how he saw a big explosion that blew windows out as a fire raged at a neighbouring derelict property, forcing the evacuation of both his guests and those at another hotel.

(DOMINIC BAREHAM)

dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

A GREAT Yarmouth hotel manager has described how he saw a big explosion that blew windows out as a fire raged at a neighbouring derelict property, forcing the evacuation of both his guests and those at another hotel.

David John, who runs Ashwood Hotel in Nelson Road South, heard his wife shouting there was a blaze while he was busy on the computer and ran outside to investigate, believing that his bins had been torched, only to be greeted by the explosion which showered glass on the ground forcing him to duck back into his hotel.

All 26 guests at his premises were evacuated while people in the Red Ruth hotel, on the other side of the derelict building, also had to flee, although the Ashwood Hotel was given the all clear earlier today following a safety inspection and people started returning.

Mr John said 16 of his customers joined the 55 evacuees at the Marina Centre, while the other 10 stayed with family and friends living locally. None of the evacuees were injured.

Upstairs fire alarms sounded and the two main rooms facing the burning building filled with smoke, but the rest of the hotel escaped unscathed during the suspected arson attack at 9pm yesterday.

Mr John said the fire was “waiting to happen” because arsonists regularly torched bins in the alley behind the hotels, and he believed the burnt out building, which housed nine flats, was a den for drunks and drug addicts.

He said Yarmouth Borough Council's environmental health department had closed the building because of problems with the electrics and gas.

“The council have been warned about the property. I complained about it a few months ago. It was boarded up a few months ago, but the boards were ripped off so I put them back in place. It was just a fire waiting to happen and I have told that to the council,” Mr John said.

Marina Centre manager Wayne Nixon said he received a call at 9.55pm to set up the leisure centre for the evacuees, but as it was already a designated rest centre the procedures were already in place to cope with that eventuality and it only took 10 minutes to set everything up.

Six staff were called in to provide teas, coffees as well as blankets and bedding for the hotel guests who were sited in the centre's piazza area and included a number of eastern european migrants.

Mr Nixon said: “They were all pretty sombre. We put some DVDs on for them to watch. They were drinking tea and coffee.”

Scores of guests were evacuated from two hotels last night after a suspected arson attack on a neighbouring building in Yarmouth.

Police cordoned off the area as seven fire crews battled the blaze, which started on the third floor at the rear of the empty hotel and spread to its roof.

Onlookers and anxious guests from the neighbouring hotels watched from the street as firemen used a hydraulic crane and ladder to control the fire, which is believed to have been started deliberately.

Anyone who witnessed anything suspicious can call police on 0845 456 4567.

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