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Fire crews 'not ruling anything out' in Hartside Cafe investigation

Fire investigators say they're not ruling anything out, when it comes to finding out the cause of a fire which destroyed a popular cafe in the heart of the North Pennines.

Hartside Cafe near Alston in Cumbria was burnt to a shell in the early hours of Tuesday, 6 March.

Firefighters from Alston, Brampton and Penrith all tackled the blaze for several hours. No one was injured in the fire.

Fire crews from Penrith had to follow a snowplough along the road to reach the scene after last week's heavy snowfall.

Ian Steel from Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service was among the first on the scene:

We arrived within 12 minutes, but unfortunately on arrival the building was already, sadly, lost to fire and there was nothing that could be salvaged at that time.

"We initially set about doing some initial fire fighting activities we identified lots of cylinders at the rear of the property, so the first job was to make those cylinders safe, so our firefighters could work in relatively safe conditions."

– Ian Steel, Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service
Fire crews from Penrith had to follow a snow plough to get to the scene. Credit: ITV News

The cafe, which sits at one of Cumbria's highest points on the A686, is a hotspot for cyclists and motorcyclists, who've tackled the gruelling climb up Hartside Pass.

It was also a popular pitstop on the Tour of Britain route in 2015.

Hartside Cafe was completely destroyed in the fire. Credit: ITV News

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said their investigations will initially centre on finding the room in which the fire started:

We're not ruling anything out at the moment, we're trying to identify the room or origin and then work through, eliminating things, to hopefully point us in the right direction to what is the most likely cause."

– Ian Steel, Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service
Hartside Summit Credit: ITV News