Fire Rips Through The Grand

By Alan Lodge

- Last updated on GMT

Firefighters battle blaze at famous Brighton hotel as 400 guests are evacuated to safety. Salvage work has now begun at the hotel, which was the scene of an assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher in 1984.

FIREFIGHTERS were called to a huge fire at the Grand Hotel in Brighton at the weekend.

Up to 400 guests were evacuated from the famous old hotel after the blaze broke out at around 8pm on Saturday.

A local fire service spokeswoman described the fire at the five-star seafront hotel as "major" but within an hour of the blaze breaking out at about 8pm, the operation was scaled down.

She added "salvage work is now in progress" at the hotel, which was the scene of an attempt to assassinate former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984

The blaze was initially thought to have started in a first-floor room service area, but East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service later said it was in a sixth-floor room of the 200-room hotel.

Police said there were not believed to be any injuries after guests were evacuated to the nearby Hilton Brighton Metropole.

Stacey Simmons, 34, who witnessed Saturday night`s fire, said: "I saw thick smoke coming from the building and thought I was imagining it.

"With the history of the hotel and the IRA bombing in the 80s, your immediate reaction is to think that it is a terrorist-related incident. But obviously it just turned out to be something a little less dramatic."

Five people died at the Grand Hotel when it was bombed by the Irish Republican Army in the early hours of October 12, 1984.

Thatcher and her senior ministers were staying there during the Conservative Party conference.

Thatcher survived unscathed but one Tory member of parliament was killed while the wife of the prime minister`s trade and industry secretary Norman Tebbit was paralysed.

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