England

Plymouth Holiday Inn damaged by leisure centre fire

More than 200 guests were moved to safety when a fire broke out at a Plymouth city centre hotel.

At its height, 85 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Holiday Inn which started on the second floor just after midnight.

The blaze was contained in the swimming pool and leisure area and did not spread to the main hotel, although a conference room ceiling collapsed.

No-one was injured and guests were put up in other hotels around the city.

They have been allowed to return to the Holiday Inn to collect personal belongings, but the hotel will remain closed to guests until Friday.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service was alerted by an automatic alarm at 0010 GMT.

Group Commander Paul Bray said some of the hotel's 214 guests had slept through the hotel's fire alarm.

Coughing and spluttering

"All the guests have been safely evacuated although some didn't leave at the time of the alarm," he told BBC News.

"They had to be woken by fire crews; as part of the search they found them in their rooms asleep.

"Thankfully, fire precautions built into the hotel stopped the fire from spreading into the residential area."

He said the second floor of the hotel had been extensively damaged and the ceiling of the first floor ballroom and conference area had collapsed.

An investigation into the cause of the blaze will begin later when crews are satisfied the fire is completely out.

Guest Adrian Hollister said: "There was a very strong smell of smoke and the staff made us assemble outside for a roll-call, but it was still close to the smoke so quite a few people just walked off."

He said the guests then walked to a nearby hotel but as they were "following the line of smoke", many were coughing and spluttering.

He added: "I don't have any of my belongings with me and my clothes really smell of smoke."

Mr Hollister was among guests at the same hotel when it was evacuated on 11 November after an unexploded German World War II bomb was found in Plymouth city centre.

David Clements, the Holiday Inn's general manager, said he was "absolutely devastated" by the fire.

"All of the staff there care very much about the hotel - this is very upsetting."

Mr Clements said he was proud of professionalism of staff who had put all the correct procedures in place.

"The most important thing to them is the safety of their guests," he added.

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