Friday, August 15, 2008
Kings Head Fire - Update
There has been a major fire at the King's Hotel (known to everyone as the King's Head). Fortunately, I understand there have been no casualties. (Thanks to Darloguy at the Town Liar for the picture).
The Echo has the story here. I've spoken to the Council's Chief Exec this morning - senior officers have been working with the Fire Service and the Police all night actioning the Borough's emergency plan, so for example, there could be a smooth evacuation of guests to other venues.
As of 10 minutes ago, the fire was still burning, although the Fire Service is working hard to damp down the flames. Further investigations can then take place on the structure of the building.
As you might imagine, Priestgate is closed. The key message is - Darlington town centre is still very much open for business. Shops around Priestgate maty be affected, but fortunately owing to the Fire Service's excellent work, the Cornmill was spared. Clearly there may be some disruption getting into town, but if you're planning a visit, you should go ahead.
Darlington's Market Spectacular, which is due to start today featuring 300 stalls with goods from around the world, is proceeding as planned.
I'll provide more updates when I get them.
Recovery work is continuing to proceed well - the Cornmill shopping centre is open, as is the Cornmill car park. The fire is 90% extinguished, and a review will shortly take place as to whether Priestgate can be re-opened.
The focus of the work is now on assisting the people who were moved to the Blackwell Hotel, and the structural integrity of the building. This is likely to continue over the weekend.
So far, it hasn't been possible to re-open Priestgate whilst the fire has continued to burn, and so the Fire Service has needed to have its hoses etc in situ. It is hoped that Priestgate will be open tomorrow, as will the area around Northgate which has been closed off for the removal of loose tiles.
Everything is being done to reunite guests with their personal belongings where possible, and staff at Blackwell Grange have been very helpful. Inter-agency work seems to have gone well, which has allowed the Market Spectacular to proceed.
Finally, although the top floor was gutted, the building is structurally sound and as soon as it can be made weathertight then it would be possible to work towards partial re-opening - there is no timescale on this or detail on the owners intentions at this time.