Guests forced to flee Luton Hoo fire

L13-069 Luton Hoo in the snow and fog.'Sally-anne Stewart'JR 4'22.1.13 ENGPNL00120130122104409
L13-069 Luton Hoo in the snow and fog.'Sally-anne Stewart'JR 4'22.1.13 ENGPNL00120130122104409

Hotel guests had to be evacuated after fire broke out at Luton Hoo yesterday.

Firefighters from Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service fought a fire in the main lobby chimney of Luton Hoo last night after 35 guests were evacuated from the hotel building.

Fire Control received a call from Luton Hoo at 17.05 yesterday evening) about a fire in the main chimney in the lobby of the hotel. The fire caused smoke to fill the lobby and reception area and smoke and burning ash to billow out of the top of the chimney stack.

When Firefighters from Stopsley Community Fire Station arrived they found smoke and ash issuing from the chimney and falling into the large hearth in the lobby. They immediately called for another fire engine from Luton Community Fire Station to support them and for the Luton Aerial Platform to assist in fighting the fire.

After assessing the seriousness of the fire and the possibility it might spread to other parts of the building Firefighters began by rolling up carpets and moving furniture to minimise damage to these from their firefighting. Two Firefighters from Stopsley got to work in the hearth and began pulling out ash and debris. They then began fighting the fire from below using chimney rods and were soon caked in ash and soot.When the Aerial Platform arrived at 17.37 two Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus were moved into position above the chimney where they could use a fire hose to begin to fight the fire from above.

By 18.45 Firefighters were making steady progress in containing the fire and it was extinguished by 19.04. Once out they monitored the roof and used thermal imaging cameras to search through the whole of the building to ensure there were no embers that could have caused further fires. After 15 minutes of monitoring the fireplace and chimney the fire was declared out and crews made ready to leave.

The fire started accidentally and there were no casualties.

Watch Commander Anthony Doherty said: “Fortunately chimneys are built to get hot and we assessed that the fire would not spread from the chimney itself into the building. Unfortunately the chimney shaft was not straight but had two major kinks in it and did not have an access points. However once the Aerial Platform arrived we could begin fighting the fire from above as well below and used it to keep an eye on the roof to ensure no embers would ignite other parts of the building.

“I’d like to thank our crews who worked hard to get the fire under control and then put it out without causing any major harm to the rest of the building and its fixtures and fittings. They took care to ensure there was no risk to the rest of the building or the interiors.

“I’d also like to thank all the staff at Luton Hoo who worked with us to enable us to fight the fire effectively. They gave us all the help we required and were very supportive of our efforts.”