A fire at the Dilkhusa Grand Hotel in Ilfracombe ‘could have been a lot worse’ if it was not for the prompt actions of staff, the fire service has said

Fire fighters have praised the quick actions of staff after a fire at Ilfracombe’s Dilkhusa Grand Hotel in the early hours of yesterday (Tuesday) morning.

All 184 guests had to be evacuated after smoke filled the Wilder Road hotel at around 2.40am.

The fire service has said the fire is thought to have been started deliberately and police have launched an investigation.

Fire fighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the building and helped eight people from the premises – four were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation and one with suspected chest pains.

Station manager Simon Mcnamara said the majority of the guests were evacuated quickly following the fire alarm.

He added: “It would have been a lot worse but for some very commendable actions by hotel staff to tackle the fire with extinguishers, which subdued it and helped aid evacuation.

“We escorted people from the upper floors who were not able to self-evacuate and searched the rest of the building to make sure everyone was accounted for.

“There was a fair proportion of elderly residents and some needed assistance and that also makes them more vulnerable to the effects of smoke.”

Mr Mcnamara said staff also aided a quick evacuation and Ilfracombe Fire Station responded quickly and was able to tackle the fire before it became too large.

He said it was a relatively small fire which produced a lot of smoke, with damage limited to about 20 per cent of the third floor.

Once it was safe, guests were able to return inside to the downstairs dining area where they could stay warm and the smoke inhalation casualties were treated.

Mr Mcnamara said several guests were able to return to their rooms and he understood the Dilkhusa made arrangements with other local hotels to host those whose rooms were unusable.

Appliances from Ilfracombe, Combe Martin, Woolacombe, Braunton, Lynton, Barnstaple and Exeter attended as well as a number of ambulances to treat casualties with smoke inhalation.