dies in fire at resort hotel
A man has died, four people have been injured and
six others are missing after a fire at a Cornwall
hotel caused part of the building to collapse
Some residents were forced to jump to safety as the
blaze swept through the Penhallow Hotel in Newquay.
Fire crews had to withdraw when parts of the structure
gave way and investigators have not ruled out that
some of the missing may be inside.
More than 80 people managed to get out of the building
Devon and Cornwall emergency services said the four
casualties were in hospital, but could not confirm
the extent of their injuries.
They said that when the fire broke out the hotel
was close to capacity with 86 guests, three members
of staff and a coach driver in the building.
The fire service said a total of 23 appliances were
sent to tackle the blaze after it was called to the
scene at 0015 BST.
Three neighbouring buildings, also described as hotels,
were evacuated as a precaution.
Firefighters said the four-storey building was in
danger of complete collapse, which made it difficult
to completely extinguish the smaller fires.
Senior divisional officer Colin Hatch said more than
120 firefighters who attended the blaze were forced
to pull back due to the instability of the hotel's
Jan Sturgess, of the Cornwall Fire Brigade, said:
"The state of the building is in a very serious
condition at the moment, there's been major structural
kind of damage.
'Jumping to escape'
"All the floors have collapsed and the building
is in a fairly unstable position, so we've withdrawn
crews at this time and we're awaiting the building
surveyor to assess the building with us."
Mr Hatch said Cornwall Fire Brigade was now working
with a specialist contractor to remove the upper floors
of the building and make it safe.
He said a controlled demolition would be necessary
before fire and police personnel could start their
investigation into the cause of the blaze.
No-one would be allowed into the evacuated neighbouring
buildings until the fire service had carried out a
full risk assessment, he added.
The hotel's owners said smoke detectors and fire
doors had been checked two weeks ago.
Ted Stimpson, deputy chief constable of Devon and
Cornwall Police, said the search for the missing guests
would continue and urged people in the area to stay
away from the scene for their own safety.
Local resident Luke Steward told BBC News 24 he was
in a pub when the fire broke out.
"We just saw the roof was well alight and 10
minutes later the lobby was ablaze."
He said later that "the central part of the
Mr Steward said his brother told him he had seen
people jumping out of windows onto blankets in an
effort to escape from the burning building.
Emergency planning staff from Cornwall County Council
have set up a reception centre at a local pub - the
Fort Inn, in Fore Street, Newquay - for those evacuated.
Guests from the hotel were also being cared for at
the nearby Reef Surf Lodge.
Paul Knight, security manager at the lodge, said
he had helped a number of people from the hotel.
The Penhallow Hotel before the fire. It is owned by
He said he went outside after being alerted by the
fire alarm, and saw flames licking up the side of
He said: "It was just a nightmare. It is quite
a hotel for old people, there's often coach loads
of pensioners in there, obviously not the quickest
of moving people.
"I tried to get as many of them into our lodge
as possible and give them blankets and towels and
stuff to try to warm them up a bit. "A lot of
them were just in shock trying to find the rest of
The Penhallow is owned by Holdsworth Hotels and used
regularly by Robinsons Holidays, a family-run tour
operator based in Lancashire. Both firms are owned
by the same parent company, O&C Holdsworth.
A spokesman for Robinsons said: "We do know
that there were at least 86 people in the hotel who
were with a Robinsons coach holiday.
"They are part of the same group that owns the
hotel and they do cater for the more mature passenger,
largely from the north and north-west of England."