Hotel blaze policemen praised for bravery

Joseph Bulmer

Joint effort by agencies to Tantons emergency

A Sergeant and two police officers who broke into a blazing Bideford hotel early today (Tuesday) to rescue guests have been praised for their bravery.

They heard screams for help coming from Tantons Hotel, next door to the police station in New Road.

The officers established that people were trapped on the third floor of the hotel. They entered the burning building before the fire service arrived and searched through it to locate residents and start an evacuation.

A police spokesman said: “They demonstrated extreme courage and bravery coupled with physical exertion breaking down doors to gain access to rooms.”

In all, 54 guests were taken to an emergency evacuation centre set up in the Royal Hotel on the other side of Bideford old bridge.

Response from the local fire service was swift and resulted in them removing four people from the roof of the building.

“It is due to this professional and quick response to this major incident that no persons were harmed and the fire was brought under control,” the police spokesman continued.

The attending officers arrested a 58-year-old man at the scene on suspicion of arson and he is currently in custody at Barnstaple Custody Centre awaiting questioning.

Road closures were put in place in New Road and Long Bridge and diversions established. New Road to the town side of the Long Bridge has remained closed to enable a joint investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue.

The incident sparked a huge joint effort between agencies including the Torridge District Council Emergency team who have provided staff and resources for the Evacuation Centre at the Brend Hotels Group Royal Hotel; Dr Hillebrant from Holsworthy attended at short notice to provide medical care to the evacuees; South West Ambulance Trust attended and provided medical care to evacuees and also to the three police officers who entered the building.