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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2008, 22:57 GMT
Fire at Grand Hotel in Brighton
Grand Hotel fire
Smoke billowing from top of Grand Hotel on the seafront in Brighton

Hundreds of guests have been evacuated from the Grand Hotel in Brighton following a fire in a sixth-floor room.

Firefighters were called to the seafront at around 2000GMT after reports of smoke billowing out of the building.

Firefighters are now searching the building to make sure the blaze has been completely extinguished.

In 1984, the Grand Hotel was the target of an assassination attempt on the then-prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Sussex Police chief inspector, Laurence Taylor, praised hotel staff for their calmness.

"The hotel staff have well-practised drills. They carried out a very quick evacuation," he told the BBC.

One of the guests staying at the Grand, John Mills, said he went to the fire assembly point next to the hotel after the alarm was raised.

Unscathed

He said that guests were evacuated to the nearby Hilton Brighton Metropole hotel, where they were being given tea, coffee and sandwiches and silver thermal blankets.

Mr Mills told the BBC the entire evacuation had been calm and efficient.

Duty manager of the Metropole, Janet Ridge, said: "We are helping wherever we can."

It was unclear how Saturday's blaze started, but there are no reports of any injuries.

At one point, East Sussex Fire Service sent 10 fire engines and an aerial platform vehicle to the scene, our reporter said.

For a time, Kings Road, which runs along the seafront, was closed to traffic in both directions.

Five people were killed in an IRA bomb attack on the Grand Hotel during the 1984 Conservative Party Conference.

The prime minister escaped unscathed but Conservative MP, Sir Anthony Berry, was killed. The wife of the trade and industry secretary, Norman Tebbit, was paralysed.


Your comments and experiences:

There was a large cloud of smoke in the sky in the grand hotel area. we were very worried as we own a flat in nearby regency square. it became clear that this was a massive fire.
will tracey, brunswick terrace, hove

We're working a rather long and uneventful late shift at a building in town and we noticed the smoke from our balcony - first thought it was the car park or shopping centre. We commend the bbc website for ending our speculation so quickly!
Emma, Ricoh, Shaun, Sian, Oscar and Luke, Inkfish

My friend is staying this weekend and her husband is in Brighton staying next to the Grand. He's OK but obviously concenned about the poor people at the Grand. Out thoughts are with them.
Ian, London

its a tragedy that such an amazin landmark might be destroyed by fire...Send in fireman sam, he's the hero next door.
jamie brown, brighton

Doesn't look much of a major incident - Kings Road is open in both directions, and the police are standing around chatting.
Ian, Brighton

I arrived outside the hotel as the first fire engine arrived. Smoke was bellowing from the top floor. There were about 200 people outside on the seafront where the police closed the road. I thought the fire was on the top floor so if it started in the basement it must have severe internal damage! I counted at lease 8 fire appliances on scene and several police vehicles.
Leigh Brand, Brighton

Was just on the seafront and saw a couple who had been evacuated - they said it was in the basement but has been put out now.
Anna, Brighton, Uk

I arrived outside the hotel as the first fire engine arrived. Smoke was bellowing from the top floor. There were about 200 people outside on the seafront where the police closed the road. I thought the fire was on the top floor so if it started in the basement it must have severe internal damage! I counted at lease 8 fire appliances on scene and several police vehicles.
Leigh Brand, Brighton



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