Fire crews were called to reports of smoke coming from a hotel in Milton Road, Kings Hedges, Cambridge.
A fire service spokesman said: “The fire service was called by passing paramedics who had seen smoke coming from the building and stopped to investigate and discovered a fire in the cooking area.
“When the first fire crews arrived they were met with large amounts of smoke coming from the building and a fire was well developed in the roof space.”
A full fire investigation has been carried out and the cause of the fire was accidental.
Fire Investigator Pete Jones explained: “This fire started in the kitchen flue. A cook lit a chip pan to start preparing breakfast but the pan caught fire.
“He attempted to put the fire out but it was too late as the flames had spread to the kitchen flue and then into the roof. It is likely that years of build up of fat and grease in the extractor flue fuelled the fire, and we would appeal to all commercial kitchen owners to ensure regular cleaning of their flues and appliances is undertaken to reduce the risk of fire.”
Firefighters joined police and paramedics in safely evacuating the property. The building’s smoke alarms were going off, however, numerous guests had ignored the early warning signal, so emergency services were leading people to safety.
All people were accounted for.
Six casualties were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and one other, believed to be the chef, was taken to hospital for precautionary checks.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used jets, hose reels and hydrants to get the fire under control and extinguish it. An aerial appliance was also used to fight the fire from above. The fire was extinguished and the incident scaled down by approximately 12.30pm. All crews had left the scene 2.30pm with one crew from Cambridge regularly returning to inspect the scene.
Parts of the roof collapsed, the first floor is severely fire damaged and the ground floor has suffered smoke and water damage.
Station Commander Wayne Swales said: “The actions of the first crews on scene meant this fire was quickly under control and the building has not been completely lost. The quick-thinking decisions made by those first on the scene meant all the residents and staff are safe and the fire did not spread to any other properties.
“Our colleagues in the ambulance and police, along with another worker from Balfour Beatty, did a fantastic job in raising the alarm and taking it upon themselves to get people to safety.
“Their job would have been made a lot easier if the alarm was raised earlier as soon as a fire was discovered, and also if the guests at the hotel had left the building as soon as the smoke alarms sounded.
“We cannot stress enough how important it is to get out and stay out if a smoke alarm sounds – regardless of if you are at home, work or staying in a hotel – ignoring those warning bells could mean risking your life.”
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