Snack bar blaze - update

MORE than 130 elderly guests had to be evacuated from a Yarmouth seafront hotel in the early hours of yesterday morning after a blaze destroyed a nearby snack bar.

MORE than 130 elderly guests had to be evacuated from a Yarmouth seafront hotel in the early hours of yesterday morning after a blaze destroyed a nearby snack bar.

In dramatic scenes, 133 guests, some wearing just their pyjamas and nightgowns and others in wheelchairs, left the New Beach Hotel at about 5.15am after smoke from the large fire started to enter the Marine Parade building.

Two of the guests were taken to the James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, to be treated for smoke inhalation and the rest were taken to a temporary evacuation post at the Marina Centre.

The guests, who were from three coach parties from the north of England and mostly in their 60s and 70s, remained calm as they left the hotel.

All the guests had returned to their rooms by 9am, including the two who were taken to hospital.

About 40 firefighters tackled the fierce blaze at Peppino's ice cream and snack bar in neighbouring Regent Road. It took them two hours to put out the fire and by 9am the gutted remains of the café and food bar were still cordoned off as police and fire service investigators examined the charred debris.

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Initial indications showed the fire was caused by an electrical fault in Peppino's ceiling.

Because fire crews rushed straight into the fire, it was contained and did not spread to the New Beach Hotel and other shops.

Watch manager Alan Jaye said: “If we had not acted so proactively then we could be looking at a much worse incident.”

Mr Jaye praised the three staff of the hotel who managed to evacuate all the guests in just 16 minutes.

Also praised was coach driver Paul Taylor, from Morecambe-based Battersby, who used his vehicle to transport the guests.

The New Beach Hotel suffered some smoke damage but the two- storey derelict flats above Peppino's were badly damaged.

At the height of the blaze eight fire crews from Yarmouth, Gorleston, Martham, Lowestoft and Wymondham were involved.