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Man 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 safely.

Collapse 'imminent'

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 outside walls.

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"All the floors have collapsed and the building is in a fairly unstable position, so we've withdrawn crews at this time and we're awaiting the building surveyor to assess the building with us."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 hotel collapsed".

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 Holdsworth Hotels

He said he went outside after being alerted by the fire alarm, and saw flames licking up the side of the building.

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 their party."

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."

More remains found in hotel fire

Experts have been searching the site for two missing people
More human remains have been found in the rubble of a hotel gutted by fire in Newquay, Cornwall.
Peter Hughes, 43, from Cheslyn Hay, Staffs, died while trying to rescue his 86-year-old mother, Monica Hughes, from the Penhallow Hotel fire on Saturday.

Searchers looking for two missing people found human remains on Tuesday. Mrs Hughes is missing, feared dead.

Police said the second remains uncovered were in a different spot to those previously unearthed.

Police said the search would continue for any other remains and potential evidence.

Cornwall coroner Emma Carlyon has ruled Peter Hughes, who fell from a window in the burning building, died from inhaling smoke and toxic fumes.

He had climbed onto a window, shouting: "I can't move my mother", the inquest heard.

Paramedic Mark Bruce said Mr Hughes was alive when he reached him and had said: "I couldn't breathe up there, I had to jump, mate."

Dedicated teacher

Confirming the discovery of a second set of human remains, Devon and Cornwall Police said: "The families of the two people who are unaccounted for have been advised.

"The investigation is continuing."

Mr Hughes' family has paid tribute to him, honouring his enthusiasm, love of science and dedication to his job, as head of physics at Weston Road High School in Stafford.

In a statement read by police outside his home, his sister Pat Albutt and brother John Hughes said: "Peter had lived for teaching and was the head of physics at Weston Road High School where he was well respected by colleagues and pupils.

"Peter enjoyed astronomy and geology and had travelled to the West Country with his mother, 86-year-old Monica Hughes, to watch the surfing championships.

"We would like to thank the emergency services both from Devon and Cornwall and Staffordshire for their support and kindness during this difficult time."

More than 80 people safely escaped from the building on the night of the fire.

A team of 20 people has been searching through the rubble of the hotel, a job which could take more than two weeks to complete.

Four injured people taken to hospital are said to be improving.

Police in Cornwall say the fire is being treated as a major crime until "evidence to the contrary".

Inquiry ends at fire deaths hotel

Three people died in the fire
Police and fire officers have finished their examination at the site of the gutted Penhallow Hotel in Newquay.
They will now hand over responsibility for the building to the local authority, while investigators continue to search for the cause of the blaze.

Three people died in the fire on 18 August - two are still unidentified.

One victim, who jumped from the hotel window, was named as Peter Hughes, 43, from Cheslyn Hay in Staffordshire. His elderly mother is missing, feared dead.

Monica Hughes accompanied her schoolteacher son at the hotel and has not been seen since the blaze.

Mr Hughes was heard by a witness saying he could not move his mother, before he died from toxic fumes inhalation.

Police say efforts to identify the two sets of human remains found in the debris of the blaze are continuing.

They say they have had a good response from the public in relation to their appeal for photos or videos of the fire, but are still looking for more people to get in touch.



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