Hampshire Constabulary has launched an arson investigation following a blaze at the derelict former Ocean Hotel in Sandown that saw firefighters from across the Island battle flames for over 6 hours last night (Saturday).
As first reported by Island Echo, 8 appliances and 2 Aerial Ladder Platforms from the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service were mobilised to the historic building on Sandown Esplanade when flames were spotted by passersby at just before 20:30.
Fire service investigations are taking place today (Sunday), with the arrival of specialist fire dogs at the scene and searching of the remnants of the building underway to try and determine what started the devastating blaze – which is believed to have started in 1 room and spread quickly throughout.
More than 45 firefighters fought the flames, including crews from Sandown, Shanklin, Ryde, Newport, Ventnor, East Cowes and Cowes after a 999 call from a member of the public who had seen black smoke coming from the roof of the 4-storey hotel. Further crews were drafted in from the mainland in order to maintain fire cover for the rest of the Island.
Whilst firefighters used 5 main jets along with 15 sets of breathing apparatus to attempt to bring the fire under control, emergency service colleagues from the Police and HM Coastguard were tasked with facilitating the imposing of cordons and crowd control in the interests of public safety.
Police have officially launched a probe into the cause of the fire at the derelict building, which changed hands in the last few weeks.
Hampshire Constabulary’s Sergeant Sharland said:
“I would like to say Thank you to the Public and Press, who were supportive and understanding as we closed off large areas of the town to create safe working space for the Fire Service and ensure the public remained safe from the fallout of smoke.
“I am glad to report that nobody has been injured and an investigation as to the source of the fire is ongoing. If you saw anything that could assist us, please call 101 and quote reference number 44210177386.”
Significant damage has been caused to the building with the heat, flames, and water used to extinguish the fire rendering areas of the building structurally unstable and members of the public urged to stay away from the site – now and in the future – for their own safety.
Much of the roof has been burnt away, with what was left appearing to have collapsed down into the floor below, and all 4 floors of the building now in a state of near ruin.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager, Justin Harden, said:
“Teams worked hard in difficult conditions, particularly early on with challenging wind conditions. Crews adapted their tactics accordingly to manage this.
“I’d like to add my thanks to crews from across the Island who worked throughout the night and to the crews from Hampshire who provided support and resilience.
“This was a multi-agency effort and we were well supported by Isle of Wight Police, Isle of Wight Ambulance Service, Southern Electricity, Southern Water, Isle of Wight Council’s emergency planning duty officer, the Coastguard, the Environment Agency and South Central Ambulance Services Hazardous Area Response Team, all of whom helped deal with this situation and manage the wider considerations.
“Whilst the site will be secured, areas of the hotel are structurally unstable as a result of the fire. I would now appeal for the public to stay away from the site for their own safety and so that reinspections can be carried out.”
If you have any information that may assist Police in their inquiries, you’re asked to contact 101 and quote reference number 44210177386.
You can read more about the incident and the events as they happened, here.