Exeter Fire At Royal Clarence Hotel Threatens To Change Devon City 'Forever'

More than 100 firefighters have been battling the blaze since 5.20am.
More than 100 firefighters are battling to save 'England's oldest hotel', the Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter, Devon
More than 100 firefighters are battling to save 'England's oldest hotel', the Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter, Devon

There are fears Exeter maybe “changed forever” as hundreds of firefighters battle a blaze which has ripped through a number of buildings including the “oldest hotel in England”.

The fire is believed to have started around 5.20am on Friday at an art gallery which faces Exeter Cathedral in Devon, but has now spread to the nearby Royal Clarence Hotel, Devon and Cornwall Police have said.

Reports suggested the fire appeared under control earlier today until the hotel, just yards from Norman Cathedral, caught fire.

Flames take further hold of Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter. pic.twitter.com/pBB11MQwZN

— Spotlight (@BBCSpotlight) October 28, 2016

Exeter burning @ExpressandEcho pic.twitter.com/ohzFnEj8Py

— Ben Bowles (@ben_bowles) October 28, 2016

The cause of the fire is presently unknown.

View from my office currently! This is so sad. So much history is being destroyed 😢 #exeter #fire pic.twitter.com/F8CyTzkUKj

— Miriam Eva de Medwe (@EvalinedeMedwe) October 28, 2016

Well this is heartbreaking 😥 #Exeter #exeterfire pic.twitter.com/vOTYR4JkQf

— Niffer 💀 🎃🦇 (@fenifur) October 28, 2016

Firefighters waiting for the "word" to try & save Royal Clarence. I feel like crying seeing Exeter changed forever @BBCDevon #exeter #fire pic.twitter.com/xe2UyUMhQ5

— Richard Green (@richardgreenbbc) October 28, 2016

Smoke billowing.The cathedral cafe staff I'm told have been giving out tea to people on site @BBCDevon @BBCSpotlight pic.twitter.com/kCndYoOMUl

— Harriet Bradshaw (@BradshawHarriet) October 28, 2016

The fire has spread to the Royal Clarence hotel #Exeter The oldest hotel in England #Heartnews pic.twitter.com/XppRRoS5fY

— Heart Devon News (@HeartDevonNews) October 28, 2016

About 110 firefighters, police and paramedics are said to be attending the blaze which is affecting what historian Dr Todd Gray has called “hugely significant” buildings.

Gray told the BBC: “It’s the building where they first declared themselves as a hotel, before that we had inns, but they took the new French word and applied it to their building. This was the place to stay

“All these buildings have medieval origins and the buildings in between are very fine 17th century buildings of Exeter at its height. So whatever you see from the outside, it’s got a deeper, more interesting past just behind the plasterwork.

“It’s hugely significant for Exeter.”

BBC presenter Richard Green summed up the emotion of those at the scene, tweeting: “I feel like crying seeing Exeter changing forever.”

Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter is on fire, just taken these pics from my window, quite big flames coming from 4 places, looks out of control pic.twitter.com/ukArXKBCeT

— PHILIP COLLINS (@philipc454) October 28, 2016

Fire in Exeter city centre distressingly visible from all around the city. @BBCSpotlight @BBCDevon pic.twitter.com/rcBkBKl0GW

— Simon Hall (@SimonHallNews) October 28, 2016

Fire in #Cathedral Yard #Exeter has now spread to roof of the Royal Clarence hotel. 12 crews are working at the scene pic.twitter.com/PeUVcplif8

— Devon&Somerset Fire (@DSFireUpdates) October 28, 2016

This is awful. The fire on Cathedral Green in #Exeter has now spread to The Royal Clarence Hotel. pic.twitter.com/RCAp0jh2s8

— James Vickery (@jsvickery) October 28, 2016

Statement from Leader of the Council Pete Edwards about the Cathedral Green fire - https://t.co/DKVESgfSRr pic.twitter.com/58kSZxorAV

— Exeter City Council (@ExeterCouncil) October 28, 2016

Very upsetting scenes as we are watching the flames and billowing smoke from #Exeter Cathedral Green no longer under control 😞😥 pic.twitter.com/yeJMXgfyHc

— ExeterHour (@Hour_Exeter) October 28, 2016

Fire on Cathedral Green in Exeter @BBCDevon @BBCSpotlight pic.twitter.com/cmBa4zu6eu

— Harriet Bradshaw (@BradshawHarriet) October 28, 2016

Stay away frm Cathedral Green & Laura Ashley end of #Exeter City this AM due to large scale fire. If working in area check before travelling https://t.co/HXoIUDZovg

— Supt Sam de Reya (@SuptSamdeReya) October 28, 2016

The Canon at Exeter Cathedral described seeing “flying debris”.

The Royal Clarence Hotel has been evacuated and all staff and residents are accounted for, police have said.

There are no reports of any injuries.

The fire service said air is being pumped through Costa and Laura Ashley - which are close to the burning buildings - to stop the fire spreading.

As a result of the fire, Queen Street, High Street, Cathedral Green and other surrounding roads are closed.


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