Video: Historic hotel close to disaster in fire drama

AN HISTORIC Suffolk hotel was just “minutes from disaster” after a fire sent 20ft flames shooting out of a chimney stack on the 550-year-old building.

Jonathan Schofield

AN HISTORIC Suffolk hotel was just “minutes from disaster” after a fire sent 20ft flames shooting out of a chimney stack on the 550-year-old building.

Firefighters from Long Melford feared the blaze had spread to the roof of the Bull Hotel in the village when they arrived just before 10.30am yesterday.

Guests were evacuated from the building while police shut down Hall Street to allow extra crews from Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds access to the front of the hotel.


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Long Melford's watch manager Steve Dudden said: “As we drove up to the hotel there were 20ft flames pouring out of the chimney and I thought the worst. We really thought we had a major disaster on our hands here and assumed the roof had caught fire.

“I'm sure we were just minutes from disaster. If the rafters of the hotel had caught fire we wouldn't have just been here this morning fighting this one.”

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Mr Dudden said the chimney that caught fire led to a fire place in one of the hotel's bars and was probably started by a blockage in the flume.

“There is a lot of smoke damage in the bar but it could have been so much worse,” he added.

Crews remained on the scene throughout the morning to ensure the fire had been extinguished while thermal imaging scans were taken of the roof and chimney to check for hotspots.

Stuart Finch, 52, of Cordell Road, was delivering Christmas cards close to the hotel when he noticed the fire.

He said: “I saw smoke pouring out of the chimney and knew something serious had happened. By the time I got to the front of the hotel the crew from Melford were already there using hoses to direct water onto the chimney and roof.

“It brings it home how important it is for villages like ours to still have their emergency services. With all those wooden beams you can only imagine the devastation if they hadn't got here so quickly.”

The Bull Hotel was built in 1450 and still retains many of its original wooden features inside. The current exterior was discovered in 1935 when a century old brick wall covering it was removed.

- Traffic ground to a halt in Long Melford last night after a lorry driver stopped to repair a wheel.

The vehicle ended up blocking High Street from 4.50pm to 6.50pm .

The road was re-opened following the incident.

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