Falmouth Red Cross volunteers help residents evacuated around Newquay hotel fire
Volunteers from the British Red Cross emergency team based in Falmouth have been giving their assistance to those affected by the Newquay hotel fire.
The team were asked by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service last night to support those evacuated from their homes following the blaze at the derelict Cedar Hotel.
While 50 firefighters tackled the incident, neighbouring residents were told to leave their homes as acrid smoke billowed from the building.
Volunteers with the Red Cross fire and emergency support service (FESS), Jo Philpott and Ruth Taggart, received the call as soon as their duty started at 6pm.
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They immediately travelled to the temporary rest centre at St Michael's Church hall to help those who had been 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.
Ms Taggart said: "When we arrived at the rest 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 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.
"We put a DVD on in the vehicle to keep the children entertained, and we also arranged some food later in the evening."
The fire and emergency support service works together with the fire service to support those affected by a fire, flood or other emergency. While the fire service deals with the emergency, Red Cross volunteers provide practical help, advice and comfort and a place of refuge in their specially adapted vehicle.
As well as providing a safe haven at the scene of the fire, the vehicle is equipped with items people may need in the immediate aftermath of an emergency, including clothing, hygiene items, baby food, toys for children and even treats for pets.
At around 11pm the residents were told it was safe to return home and the volunteers supported the emergency management team from the council to transport them back to their homes.
Mr Taggart said:: "There is great satisfaction in being able to do something for other people and every call is different – you never really know what to expect."
Rich Williams, Red Cross FESS coordinator, said: "Our volunteers make a real difference to people who have been affected by a fire or other emergency. We are always looking for new volunteers to join our team as we would like to operate a 24/7 service."
The service is based at Falmouth Community Fire Station and currently operates Monday to Friday evenings (6pm to 6am) and at weekends covering all parts of Cornwall.
Volunteers need to live with 30 minutes drive of Falmouth.Any who would like to find out more contact Mr Williams on 01872 267960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.