Mystery blaze wrecks Oxford's world-famous Randolph Hotel which was used as a setting for TV's Inspector Morse
Witnesses reported massive plumes of smoke billowing above the building
The blaze is not believed to be suspicious and is thought to have started in ground floor kitchen
A devastating fire has caused serious damage to a world-famous hotel used as a setting for television’s Inspector Morse.
The Randolph, in Oxford city centre, went up in flames this afternoon, with smoke billowing from the roof as dozens of fire fighters battled to bring the inferno under control. The extent of the damage to the Grade II listed Victorian building remains unclear but aerial pictures of the scene showed gaps in the roof and exposed beams.
The five-star hotel, run by the Macdonald chain, includes the Morse Bar, named after being used as a frequent setting for many scenes where Morse and Lewis deliberated on complex cases. The cast and crew also stayed at the hotel while filming the detective drama.
Roads were closed around the hotel as fire crews fought to stop the flames spreading, while its staff and guests were evacuated.
No-one was believed to have been injured in the fire, with guests and staff quickly evacuated to the nearby Oxford Playhouse theatre. It was not yet known how many people were inside the hotel at the time.
An Oxfordshire fire service spokesman said: “The call was received by fire and rescue at 4.39pm and a total of 14 fire engines have been sent to the hotel, including two high reach appliances. “Fire fighters have not had to rescue anybody from the blaze and the building has been evacuated. Roads nearby have been closed as fire fighters deal with the incident”.
The Randolph was built in 1864 by William Wilkinson, an architect who also designed many other buildings in North Oxford, and first opened in 1866. There have been many attempts to preserve the grandeur of the building with major refurbishments taking place in 1952, 1978, 1988 and most recently in 2001, at a cost of £4 million, which saw the redecoration of 119 bedrooms and the creation of three new meeting rooms.
A spokesperson for Oxfordshire’s Fire and Rescue Service said the cause of the blaze, which resulted in the evacuation of guests and staff from the 151 bedroom, five-AA-star hotel and adjoining buildings, is not believed to be suspicious.
Peter Cleary, station manager from Oxfordshire's Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Although the fire was a dramatic one we did successfully manage to prevent it from spreading to large parts of the hotel. We have done our very best to help those who were resident in the hotel”.
A spokesperson for Macdonald Hotels & Resorts said that an internal investigation had begun to establish the cause of the fire. “Our immediate priority was to conduct the safe evacuation of all our guests and staff within the property. This was successfully completed with no reported casualties”.
Story collated by Liz Turnbull.
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