Wed, 11 Nov 2015
DOZENS of firefighters have been tackling an inferno that ripped through the accommodation wing of the Wokefield Park hotel near Mortimer earlier today (Wednesday).
Fire, police and ambulance crews arrived at the scene at around 5.30pm following reports a fire had broken out in or around the laundry room of the hotel.
By the time firecrews arrived the flames had completely engulfed the accommodation wing next to the golf course.
More than 100 guests are believed to have been evacuated before the fire took hold with 12 fire engines from Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey all attending the scene.
Craig Stewart, a guest at the hotel, said: "I was having something to eat and drink in the bar and a member of staff ran in and said there was a fire.
"A girl I knew was staying in the room right by where the fire was coming from. I ran to her room and shouted for her to get out.
"It is absolutely manic here, there's twelve fire engines and two helicopters. I've never seen anything like it.
"We've been evacuated to Mansion House across the road from where the fire is, in the executive centre.
"All my belongings are in my room, including my passport. I'm meant to be flying back to Scotland in the morning."
Mr Stewart added that the hotel staff had been 'brilliant', bringing food and drink to guests.
Speaking at the scene Fire Incident Commander, Paul Maynard, said: "Our crews arrived on scene and quickly assessed the situation calling for extra fire officers to attend the scene.
"The whole accommodation wing was in flames.
"Our tactics were all about saving the second wing.
"The crews got into some pretty hazardous conditions to make sure the fire didn't spread.
"The hotel staff have been amazing and everybody was out of the hotel and accounted for very quickly and there have been no injuries to anybody, including our crews."
Firecrews are expected to be battling the blaze throughout the night, however Mr Maynard said that the building is beyond saving and is likely to collapse at some point.
Once evacuated guests had been transported off site to other hotels in Reading.
One witness, Jacqueline Widick: "I just got off duty at Fire and Rescue HQ and was travelling the The Street as one appliance was enroute passing us....as we went round next bend the sky was alight with orange flames.
"We had to pull over six more times as additional appliances went to scene...the entire top floor and loft space were engulfed in flames which we could see from about 1/2 mile away. Please keep our brigade men safe while tackling this enormous blaze."
A doctor was called but has been stood down. The Hazardous Area Response Team, an ambulance and tactical advisor were also called.
Villager, Cindy Kimber, who drove past the scene of the fire, said it was the executive centre building at the hotel which was on fire:
“The flames were taller than the building itself – the building is burning down and bits were breaking off,” said Mrs Timber.
A spokesperson for Wokefield Park said: "We can confirm that there has been a fire within a section of Wokefield Park.
"Our priority at this time is the safety of our guests and staff and we are working very closely with the Fire Brigade who are onsite now.
"We will provide further information as it becomes available.”
The cause of the fire is as yet unknown with a fire investigation team currently onsite.
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(Pictures from NewburyToday reporter Chris Ord and @ArmySTBA)