Fifty-four people evacuated in early morning drama in Bideford

FOUR people were rescued by fire fighters from the roof of Tantons Hotel in Bideford when fire broke out early this morning (Tuesday).

Witnesses heard cries for help and saw flames coming from the prominent building on the town's riverside.

Eight fire appliances from around the area plus an aerial appliance from Barnstaple rushed to the hotel to tackle the blaze, which broke out on the third floor.

Fifty-four people were evacuated and taken to the Royal Hotel on the other side of old Bideford Bridge.

At 5am fire crews were wearing breathing apparatus and four hose reels plus an aerial ladder were in use.

At 6.15am two hose reels were in use and the crews confirmed that everyone had been accounted for.

The road alongside the hotel has been closed.

Police have arrested a 58-year-old man at the scene on suspicion of arson and he is currently in custody at Barnstaple Custody Centre.

The fire service remains at the scene damping down and police crime scene investigators and fire investigators will later carry out a crime scene investigation.

Keep checking the Gazette website for more updates.