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  1. ITV Report

Hotel company "potential risk to human life"

The Tantons Hotel Photo: ITV Westcountry

A hotel company based in Torquay has been fined £40,000 and asked to pay £10,000 in legal costs for breaking safety rules after guests were trapped by a blaze and rescued from its roof. The Tantons Hotel in Bideford caught on fire in May of last year.

Today, Judge Recorder Mr Andrew Maitland said that the hotel “failed” to act on its own risk assessments. He said there had been a high degree of non compliance over at least 4 years, with potential risk to human life.

He said that proprietors of hotels have a serious duty to protect guest, and was “appalled” that it took two hours to take full account of who was staying there.

55 people had to be rescued . One guest had to use her fingers to pull open a door with no handle. The woman in her 70s also found a fire door blocked by barrels of cooking oil.

Investigators found more than a hundred safety failures including blocked exits and smoke and heat detectors that had been switched off.

In ordering the fines, Judge Maitland said:

It is common knowledge that hotel fires have very serious consequences and that message must go out to hotels and people who invest in them.

– Judge Recorder Mr Andrew Maitland

Back in June 2011, hotel guest Anthony Westhead, aged 64, from Folkestone in Kent admitted starting the fire and being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Watch our full report here:

And you can watch Richard’s original report of the fire here: