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Hungry Horse fire: Work begins to establish cause of The Bell blaze

By Western Gazette - Yeovil  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

  • TREMENDOUS EFFORT: Firefighters from across Somerset joined efforts to battle the fierce blaze at the Bell in Preston Road, Yeovil. Picture by WG reader Geoff Collins

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It may take weeks before investigators establish what caused the fire that destroyed The Bell pub, it emerged this week.

More than 16 fire engines from across Somerset were required to tackle the huge blaze at the Hungry Horse premises in the early hours of Sunday morning.

It took crews four hours to bring the fire under control at around 8am. Police also attended to assist with road closures, while ambulance crews were kept on stand-by.

Devon and Somerset Fire Service received 11 calls from the public at around 4.20am, alerting them to the blaze, group manager Paul Cregan said.

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He said fire investigators are still working to establish the cause of the fire. He added: “It could take up to a few weeks given the dangerous structure of the building. Investigators won’t be able to get into some places until it’s made safe.”

He praised firefighters for the bravery they showed on Sunday when they risked their lives searching for people in the burning pub. Parts of the building later collapsed.

Mr Cregan added: “Crews used breathing apparatus to search for people thought to be missing which was a huge risk as the building was unstable. They did a tremendous job searching the whole of the first floor and could tell us nobody was in the premises.

“That was corroborated by the police who managed to get in touch with the bar owner.”

Flames ripped through the ground and first floors and broke through the roof at the rear of the pub.

Crews from Yeovil, Sherborne, Martock, Crewkerne, Chard, Castle Cary, Ilminster, Somerton, as well as an aerial ladder platform and incident support unit from Taunton, a command unit and pump from Street, a water carrier from Bridgwater and a welfare unit from Burnham-on-Sea, were dispatched as the seriousness of the situation became clear.

Devon and Somerset Fire Service temporary group manager Martin Lock said crews had to fight the fire from outside the building as it was so unstable which is why it took longer to extinguish.

Crews used six main jets, two aerial ladder platforms, and one hose reel jet, backed by hydrants and a water carrier, to extinguish the flames.

Mr Cregan praised the other emergency services who provided support to the fire service, as well as the local community for their patience during the ordeal.

He said the last time he saw something on this scale in Yeovil was 12 years ago when a fire destroyed Coopers Mill, on Brunswick Street. Sunday’s blaze is the largest he remembers across south Somerset since a thatched roof caught fire in Somerton in 2010.

He added: “We would like to urge property owners and business owners to take a moment to check their fire safety, check they’ve got working smoke alarms and check their fire risk assessment is in order.

“That will greatly reduce the chance of any fires in the home and local businesses. The fire service can give advice on how to do this.”


Photos: Bell Inn Hungry Horse pub fire in Yeovil

Photos: Fire damage at Hungry Horse pub in Yeovil

Video and photos: Huge fire destroys Hungry Horse pub in Yeovil

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