Arson attack blamed for blaze at Newquay's Cedars Hotel
A fire at a derelict hotel in Cornwall which forced dozens of people to be evacuated from their homes is thought to have been started by arsonists.
Firefighters were yesterday still at the scene of the blaze at the four-storey Cedars Hotel in Newquay, which began just before 4.30pm on Wednesday.
Some 30 people in neighbouring properties were forced from their homes and into a hastily set-up rest centre, as smoke billowed from the burning building.
It was deemed too dangerous for firefighters to enter the former hotel, which is on the verge of being redeveloped, and the blaze was fought from outside. At the height of the blaze, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service had six pumps, an aerial ladder and other vehicles at the scene.
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Volunteers with the Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) were called to the rest centre at St Michael's Church hall to help those evacuated.
While most people were able to find alternative places to stay with family or friends, nine women and children remained at the rest centre.
FESS volunteer Ruth Taggart said: "When we arrived at the centre, the church warden and other helpers were busy making cups of tea so we made sure everyone was safe and comfortable.
"One lady, who picked flowers for a living, hadn't had a chance to go home and her clothes were soaking wet. She was very cold so we were able to take her onto the FESS vehicle and get her some warm, dry clothes to put on."
Residents were allowed home at about 11pm.
At noon, firefighters left the scene although the fire service said crews would return "throughout the day to damp down any hot spots as required".
The fire investigation has now been completed at scene. Newquay station manager Stuart Whitworth said: "It's a derelict property and there's no power to it, so we can be fairly confident this is arson."