28 July 2009
Volunteers were quick to respond after a blazing fire erupted and destroyed a hotel, forcing hundreds of people to flee to safety.
As 100 fire-fighters tackled the flames at the six-storey Grand Hotel in Blackpool on Monday night (27 July), ten Red Cross volunteers arrived at the scene. The fire triggered the evacuation of around 200 people from local homes, holiday flats, guesthouses and a nightclub.
The volunteer team helped set up a rest centre at the local Palatine Sports Centre, as scores of people sought shelter. Ever since, they have been a reassuring presence at the centre – helping with registration, providing information and comforting shocked residents and holiday-makers.
‘Quick to respond’
Stewart Knowles, operations manager, said: “Our volunteers were very quick to respond to a serious situation. About 200 people arrived at the rest centre through the night and there are about 60 people here at the moment. Our volunteers are supporting them until they can return to their homes and hotels.”
A fire service spokesman told BBC News: "It's a scene of absolute devastation, the hotel was collapsing. At the fire's height, it looked like something from the blitz."
The Red Cross is working alongside WRVS, the Salvation Army, St John Ambulance and other voluntary agencies at the centre.
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