On Monday, a major fire destroyed the Best Western Falmouth Beach Hotel, despite the efforts of over 100 firefighters. The blaze started just after noon local time, and all hotel staff and guests had to be evacuated to safety. Even a neighbouring hotel was evacuated for safety, while surrounding roads were closed down.
The fire was helped by strong winds, which helped the flames spread, while the roof of the building collapsed. Although no-one was hurt, three of the guests had initially been unaccounted for. It’s believed the guests weren’t in the hotel at the time of the fire but were on day trips. On Monday, Devon and Cornwall Police said in a statement that there’s nothing to suggest the unaccounted guests were harmed in the incident. Although they believed the guests were out on day trips, they were appealing for the guests to make themselves known to confirm their safety.
The fire reportedly started on the Falmouth Beach Hotel’s third floor, but spread due to the windy weather. Cornwall’s chief fire officer, Des Tidbury, said the viciousness of the wind made for a challenging fight against the flames. Along with the blaze being fanned by the wind, the water used by the fire crews on aerial ladders was being directed away from the hotel. This meant they had to repeatedly relocate the platforms. He added that there were several nooks and crannies in the hotel’s building, and it would be hours before the fire was completely put out.
The Best Western Falmouth Beach Hotel had 120 rooms and was one of the biggest accommodations in the town. It was opened in 1984 by the Evans family and became part of Best Western in 2000. Geoffrey Evans, the mayor of Flamouth, called the blaze completely terrible and said it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. The incident comes at the start of the holiday season, with the Olympic Torch due to pass through in a few weeks. He doesn’t know how this will affect accommodation. He thinks the hotel was fully booked, so it’s a total disaster that such a prominent hotel has been lost at this time of year. One side of the hotel has been completely gutted due to the fire, he added.
Best Western says two coach loads of guests were set to arrive at Falmouth Beach. However, alternative hotel rooms were found for them, as well as for other guests booked at the property for the week. A spokeswoman wasn’t able to confirm how many staff were employed at the hotel or what would happen.
On Monday, what caused the fire was unknown, but an investigation has been launched. By Wednesday, it was speculated that a hot barrel of tar being used to repair the roof may have been the cause. Detective Chief Inspector John Trott said at a press briefing that early indications show a roofing company was working on the hotel, and the fire resulted from that work.
Also on Wednesday, the owners of Falmouth Beach Hotel promised to rebuild the property. They also thanked local businesses and the public for their overwhelming support. A spokesman said that the Evans family has been very touched by the support and good wishes from the community at this difficult time.
The spokesman added that the hotel’s team also thanks Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service for their bravery and neighbouring businesses for providing such great support – especially the Anacapri Hotel and Gylly Beach Cafe. Although they don’t know how long it will take, they intend to rebuild the hotel and provide beautiful seafront accommodation once again.
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