Ryde Castle Hotel blaze 'linked to wedding fireworks'
A fireworks display at a wedding may be linked to the cause of a huge blaze that caused the partial collapse of a hotel on the Isle of Wight.
The Ryde Castle Hotel was evacuated and six fire crews called just after 22:00 GMT Saturday. No-one was hurt.
Crews were withdrawn from the building just before the collapse and were still at the scene on Sunday damping down.
Owner Greene King confirmed fireworks had been set off from the hotel's roof during the function.
In a statement, the company said: "The police had been notified of this in advance.
"It certainly appears possible that the fireworks were the cause but we will have to wait for a full investigation by the fire service to be completed to get all the facts."
Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service said its investigation might continue until Wednesday.
But a spokesman said the extent of the damage to the roof would make reaching a definitive conclusion problematic.
Chief fire officer Steve Apter said about 50 firefighters tackled the fire, during which the middle part of the building collapsed.
He said: "[They] were faced with quite a serious fire in the roof and the upper floors in the middle part of the building."
He said all occupants of the hotel had been evacuated before crews arrived.
Police had been informed about the fireworks display at the hotel about two hours before crews were called to the fire.
Mr Apter said: "Eyewitness reports state that fireworks were actually being set off from the roof of the hotel."
The 18-bedroom hotel overlooks Ryde Esplanade and Harbour.
The castle's website claims the building was commissioned by Henry VIII in about 1540 to defend the Spithead, Southampton Water and the Solent from the invasion by the Spanish Armada.
However, historians say the castle is an early Victorian or Georgian structure.
It is thought to have been built in about 1840 as a private family home.
During World War I, the building was used as a hospital and during World War II it was an army headquarters.
"It's very sad to see that much damage to a historic building and obviously the disappointment for the unlucky wedding couple," Mr Apter added.
In a statement, Greene King said the hotel would be closed for the foreseeable future.
"We are deeply upset about the damage to this historic building and it is our intention to restore it as soon as possible," it said.