Fire chief reports on blaze

Fire at the George Hotel

The firemen who dealt with the recent fire at the historic George Hotel in Rye High Street were thanked at Monday’s special town council meeting.

The meeting had been called to discuss the George fire as well as the council’s current finances and Mayor making next year.

At one point though it seemed as if more members of the public would be present than councillors as a significant number of councillors could not be there – as indeed could any representative from The George.

Reporting on the fire, East Sussex Fire Brigade (ESFB) incident commander Dan Channon said the fire had been contained, and stopped from spreading further, before the aerial platform arrived from Hastings (and not Brighton, as some rumours had suggested).

Local householders had not been informed about the fire, he said, because there was no need to evacuate them and they were actually safer inside their houses, rather than out on the street, in case of falling debris.

Flames engulf the hotel roof

He commended the hotel staff for their swift evacuation of the building and said it was fortunate that there was another hotel immediately available to which they could be moved.

Police Sgt Dave Sands said parking was not an issue because of the early morning timing of the fire which meant the High Street was completely shut. He could not comment on police availability but said there had been a death at Camber coinciding with this incident.

It was pointed out though that fire officers can move parked cars if absolutely necessary. However parking has proved a problem to emergency vehicles in the past.

In 2014 badly parked cars in East Street and Church Square blocked firemen trying to reach the Hope Anchor Hotel. On that occasion it was a false alarm, but Mr Channon said a fire at the Hope Anchor would be challenging.

Anthony Kimber, who chairs the local emergency group REACT, also commented that access to some parts of Rye would be problematic.

When thanking the firemen again for their efforts the Mayor commented that “it could have been a hell of a lot worse” and Anthony Kimber said “more work was needed on learning lessons from the fire” and that he would be speaking to Rother District Council (RDC).

An extension ladder was needed to get at the rooftop fire at the George Hotel

A major emergency in the town, which might involve floods rather than a fire, could require a lot of people being evacuated to temporary or permanent shelters in or away from the town (possibly involving the RDC and East Sussex County Council (ESCC)) and, while in this case it was quickly known that The George’s guests could be moved to the Rye Lodge, neither the RDC or the police were conspicuously present at the incident.

A further follow-up meeting seems likely as more information emerges about the damage caused by the fire and how the hotel may be restored.

The fire appears to have started in a kitchen unit and spread rapidly because of the age, design and construction of a historic building , and there is no evidence of a lightning strike, said the Fire Brigade spokesman

Image Credits: Rye News library .


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