A three storey, grade two listed building caught alight on Wednesday afternoon. The Edwardian building used to be the private family residence of the Honourable Mrs Ainscow, who was the daughter of Lord Kenilworth. In the 1960’s it became a hotel and then in the early 1990’s it was converted into quality apartments. The fire started around 1:40 PM on Wednesday 19th of February.

Battling the blaze

The first emergency services arrived on the scene shortly after 2:00 PM, with many more crews joining within the next few minutes from nearby towns including Southam, Nuneaton, Bidford, Stratford and Atherstone. The fire crews fought the fire quickly, but soon the building became a dangerous area of falling tiles, debris and gallons of water. The gas supply to the whole site was isolated as was the electricity supply to the building.

Very quickly, police blocked the surrounding roads, and took the residents to a nearby school where the Red Cross had set up a temporary rest centre until better accommodation could be organised.

Fire tenders took over the road

At the height of the fire, 9 fire engines, one high lift platform vehicle, 4 ambulances, several police cars, a command support unit and two tankers were at the scene. Tankers were ferrying water from fire hydrants slightly further away, as the nearby hydrant was struggling to keep up with the demand.

Another tanker-load of water arrives

The fire, that was thought to have been started by an electrical fire in apartment number 9,very quickly spread up into the roof and ignited the roof timbers, and being dry and old, burnt quickly and furiously.

Firemen hose down outbursts of flames in the battle to bring it under control

Fire crews were busy both battling flames in the roof whilst other teams constantly went inside the building trying to keep the fire in the top storey of the building. This became not only dangerous, but also needed fantastic co-ordination – this was training put to the test!

Fire crews prepare to go into the building

The Leamington Rapid Relief Team (RRT) arrived on site around 3:45 PM and were kept busy feeding many hungry firemen and women with tea, coffee, soft drinks and biscuits. Not only did the fire crews come to the RRT tent, but also, the RRT were able to take refreshments to, and move freely amongst, the firefighters actually fighting the fire. Backup labour joined the RRT at approx 5:30 PM. Around 9:00 PM the pizza’s arrived, and needless to say these disappeared quickly as firemen enjoyed the sustenance and support that was being provided. Fireman were very grateful for the food, and this is proved in the page full of comments that were written down on a piece of card at the RRT tent.

Firemen enjoy the refreshments at the RRT tent Another refreshed fireman! Fire crew in the platform do their best amidst rising smoke

The majority of the RRT stepped down around 10:00 PM leaving just 4 members of the team who manned the event until around midnight and left refreshments available for firemen to help themselves to. Back at the scene just before 05:00 AM the fire crews shifts were just changing and relief crews taking over. Hot drinks were provided and welcomed by those leaving the scene and those joining. The RRT effort came to an end just after 08:00AM. By this time the fire was well under control and more fire engines were leaving the incident, this left just two tenders, the command unit, and the platform vehicle. The Chief Command Support Officer said “The fire is now out; we are just waiting for full daylight to search for any hot spots”.

The sheet full of comments of appreciation!


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