Fire alarms “failed” to go off automatically at the Old Vicarage Hotel in Bridgwater after smoke was found to be coming out of one of the first floor rooms.
The Devon & Somerset fire department responded to a call on 5 December from the hotel management, and said: “At the time of call the alarms were not activating, so on the advice of Fire Control the alarms were activated manually to begin the evacuation of their guests and staff.”
However the boss of the hotel has disputed this claim, stating that: “The fire alarms were functioning perfectly normally. They did activate, and the staff were actually praised by the firefighters on duty.” The fire service has since taken down the report.
The hotel was still in the process of clearing the building when the emergency services arrived, after which they confirmed that there was a fire and its location.
A further two fire engines were dispatched after a message came through at 8.10pm stating that not all individuals had been accounted for. By 8.15pm all staff members and residents were accounted for with no reported casualties.
There were concerns the fire had spread to the roof, but upon investigation the onsite crew found no further evidence of damage or risk.
The fire is being treated as accidental, and ultimately just three rooms in total were affected by fire and smoke damage.