Page last updated at 07:43 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Large fire in empty seaside hotel

Pippa O'Gorman, who lives across the road, took this picture of the fire
Pippa O'Gorman, who lives across the road, took this picture of the fire

A large hotel in Dorset has been seriously damaged in a fire overnight.

Gresham Court Hotel in Gervis Road in Bournemouth was undergoing refurbishment so was empty at the time.

Nobody was hurt but several neighbouring hotels were evacuated after the blaze broke out in the roof space and upper floor of the building.

The building - thought to be listed - suffered extensive damage. Pippa O'Gorman, who lives opposite, said it "practically burned to the ground".

About 50 firefighters, eight fire engines and two aerial ladder platforms were called to the scene shortly before 2200 GMT.

A petrol station near the hotel was also closed and evacuated, Ms O'Gorman said.

Roof collapsed

"The whole roof of the hotel was ablaze, it was really quite extraordinary," she said.

"The blaze took hold and, in the first few minutes we were looking, the roof started to collapse.

"It was a really vicious fire.

"There was so much smoke, it was billowing right across Bournemouth town centre for three or four hours."

Nigel Williams, deputy chief fire officer, said: "It is very lucky that no-one was injured in this major blaze.

"There are no indications at this time to support the cause being suspicious.

"The site contractors were called and arrived very quickly to assist with information for the firefighting crews and police who were also on scene."

He said an investigation to establish what caused the fire would be carried out on Friday.

Some roads around the hotel remain closed.

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