UPDATE: 500 people were evacuated from hotel

UPDATE: 500 people were evacuated from hotel

Amanda Hall

UPDATE: 500 people were evacuated from hotel

A hotel fire that saw 500 people evacuated in the early hours of New Year's Day has refuelled opposition to plans to shut Windsor's fire station.

Firefighters from Windsor, Langley and Slough were called to the Beaumont Estate hotel in Burfield Road, Old Windsor where a fan is believed to have caught fire in a first floor room just after 5am.

Although the fire had died out when crews arrived the corridors were heavily filled with smoke and had to be cleared before the guests could be let back in. The 18th century White House that makes up the hotel along with the adjoining 19th century chapel was restored at a cost of £8 million by the company Principal Hayley only three years ago.

Berkshire Fire Authority plans to sell off Windsor's fire station in St Mark's Road. But Old Windsor councillors Malcolm Beer and Lynne Jones both believe Sunday's hotel fire proves that a permanent, guaranteed 24-hour a day service from Windsor is vital.

A compromise solution worked out between the authority and Royal Borough councillors who oppose the downgrade, would see a reduced size engine kept at the council depot site in Tinkers Lane, Windsor. But it would be reliant on crews from other stations being available to man it.

Cllr Jones said that a check on Sunday's response times had proved the Fire Authority had seriously understimated the time it would take an engine from Slough to reach Old Windsor, if a team was not available from Windsor itself.

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