Devon

Tantons Hotel fire: Man arrested at scene in Bideford

A 58-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson following a fire at a hotel in North Devon.

A couple in their 70s were among those rescued from the roof of Tantons hotel in Bideford after fire broke out on the third floor at about 0400 BST.

The alarm was raised after officers at the police station next door heard them shouting for help.

About 50 other guests, many of them elderly, and staff, were also taken to safety.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said 60 firefighters were involved in dealing with the fire, which they managed to confine to a single room.

The arrested man was apprehended at the scene and is being held in Barnstaple.

'Extreme courage'

Incident Commander Graham Rook, from the fire service, told BBC News: "The third floor was well alight and a number of people were on the roof shouting for help.

"[Firefighters] rescued the individuals on the roof using the ladder and then called in more resources.

"It's not what we expect from Bideford."

Most of the guests at the 18th Century quayside hotel were asleep when the fire started.

Before the fire service arrived three police officers ran into the building to alert them.

Devon and Cornwall Police praised the officers' professional and quick response.

"They demonstrated extreme courage and bravery coupled with physical exertion, breaking down doors to gain access to rooms. Response from the local fire service was swift and resulted in them removing persons from the roof of the building," a spokesman said.

The officers were later treated for smoke inhalation.

Supt Kevin Harris, of the force, added: "They were very worried, they realise that today they've saved lives."

It is understood the officers may be commended for their actions.

A reception centre has been set up for the hotel's residents, many of whom fled the hotel in their night wear, at the nearby Royal Oak Hotel.

A crime scene investigation is being carried out by police and fire investigators.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites