Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue believes the fire at the Bridge Hotel in Sutton Bridge was started deliberately in an arson attack.
Fire investigation officer Jason Lawley said this morning: “The fire started on the ground floor and spread to the first floor and roof area of the main building.
“Swift action prevented the fire from entering the third floor end of the building. The premises was not secure in a number of places with evidence of illegal entry. The cause is therefore thought to be deliberate, subject to an investigation by Lincolnshire Police.”
Sunday: Fire crews from Lincolnshire and Norfolk were last night (Saturday) tackling a major fire at the Bridge Hotel in Sutton Bridge.
The hotel had been due to be demolished but residents believed the iconic building was about to be given a new lease of life with a scheme to provide flats on the site.
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue has described the building as “70 per cent damaged”.
Five fire crews and an aerial ladder platform were called to the disused hotel shortly after 9.20pm.
Fire crews were still on the scene at midnight, when Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue described the building as 70 per cent fire damaged.
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue has so far not said how the fire started.
Sutton Bridge Parish Council chairman John Grimwood watched firefighters at work and said there were seven fire engines, including appliances from King’s Lynn, Wishbech, Holbeach and Long Sutton.
The aerial ladder platform was called in from Boston.
Coun Grimwood went to the hotel about half-an-hour after the blaze was reported to emergency services and said there were a lot of people there as news of the blaze had spread through Facebook.
He said: “When we were there, there weren’t any flames but you could see a red glow inside the building.
“It’s a sad day for the village, really, it’s part of the village history.”
Coun Grimwood said firefighters used the aerial ladder platform to spray down on the hotel from above.
The Bridge Hotel suffered repeated attacks of vandalism after it closed and sometimes had squatters living inside.
Some demolition works started last year – chiefly removal of roof tiles – but that work came to a halt and there was talk of a new lease of life for the building with a possible conversion to flats, keeping the hotel facade.
Shortly before 10am today, Sutton Bridge resident Tom Rowe said firefighters were still on the scene damping down and he understands an investigation into the cause of the blaze will get underway this morning.
Mr Rowe said the hotel “had been virtually gutted” before the blaze and he believes the extensive fire damage may have put it beyond repair.
Coun Grimwood – who returned to the scene this morning – said he has been told the building is not considered to be in any immediate danger of collapse.
• Oliver Adams (12), grandson of Tom and Jenny Rowe, filmed the video accompanying this news story.
We’ve had pictures from Mike Barton and also shots sent in by Dave Hudson Photography.