A KITCHEN fire at the Lansdowne Hotel on Eastbourne seafront led to staff and guests being led to safety on Friday afternoon (November 11).
Five fire engines, two ambulances and the police arrived at the Best Western hotel on King Edward Parade at around 1pm after a fire started in the kitchen when a gas pipe became detached.
Barry Falcone, who works in maintenance at the hotel, came face to face with the fire and spoke to the Gazette while he waited outside the hotel.
He said, “I was having my lunch down in the workshop at about 1.10pm when the kitchen staff came running in saying there was a fire.
“I went down there and I saw the owner, Mr Lewis, in the kitchen. I told him to get out as there was a big ball of fire and I was worried about the possibility of an explosion.
“I went to get the fire extinguishers but the flames just got worse so I got out.
“I can feel it in the back of my throat and I can still taste it now.”
The three hotel guests in the building at the time and the 25 members of staff escaped from the building unhurt.
They were outside for around an hour while fire crews worked to extinguish the flames in the kitchen, which is at the back of the building.
There was some smoke visible in the dining room area from the front window but general manager Craig Nicol said there was ‘very little’ smoke damage.
He said, “The fire started accidentally during routine cleaning in the kitchen. One of the flex hoses came off, which it shouldn’t have done.
“That is why there are so many firefighters because there was a concern about the gas.”
Police were on scene and directed people away from the area while firefighters worked inside.
The fire was quickly brought under control and the staff, who were being looked after by their neighbours at the Grand Hotel, were allowed back in the building at around 2.10pm.
Mr Nicol said a large party of around 100 people were due to stay in the hotel on Thursday night.
A spokesperson for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said the initial call was received at 1.15pm and crews from Eastbourne, Pevensey and Hailsham attended, utilising four appliances and an aerial ladder platform.
The spokesperson said, “The hotel was evacuated and all people were accounted for, with one person being treated by ambulance crew at the scene as a precautionary measure.
“The fire was successfully extinguished and the incident started to be scaled down at around 2.20pm. The cause of the fire at this stage is unknown.”
Pictures: Main (E46020M) and E46018