A devastating fire has destroyed a large part of the Station Hotel, a landmark building in Ayr, Scotland. The blaze broke out on Monday, September 25, and lasted for more than a week, leaving the hotel in a dangerous condition. Three teenagers have been arrested and charged in connection with the fire.
The Station Hotel: a heritage site in peril
The Station Hotel was built in 1885 and was once a grand accommodation for railway travelers. It has 72 rooms, a ballroom, and a restaurant. The hotel is also known for its iconic clock tower, which overlooks the town center.
The hotel has been closed since 2013 due to safety concerns and has been deteriorating ever since. It was listed as a Category B building by Historic Environment Scotland, meaning it is of regional or more than local importance.
The hotel has been the subject of several redevelopment plans, but none of them have materialized. The owner of the hotel, Eng Huat Ung, was fined £12,000 in 2019 for failing to maintain the building.
The fire: a massive challenge for firefighters
The fire started around 2:30 p.m. on Monday, September 25, and quickly spread throughout the hotel. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) deployed 15 appliances and more than 60 firefighters to tackle the flames.
The fire was so intense that it caused parts of the roof and walls to collapse. The firefighters had to use aerial platforms and water jets to reach the upper floors of the hotel. They also had to deal with asbestos and other hazardous materials in the building.
The fire was finally brought under control on Tuesday, October 3, but the SFRS said there were still hotspots and smoldering debris inside the hotel. The firefighters remained at the scene until Wednesday morning to monitor the situation.
The impact: a disruption for the community
The fire caused significant disruption for the residents and businesses in Ayr. Station Bridge Road, which runs next to the hotel, was closed until further notice, affecting traffic and public transport. Some nearby buildings were also evacuated as a precaution.
The fire also damaged the railway station, which is adjacent to the hotel. The station was closed for several days and trains were diverted or canceled. The station reopened on Friday, September 29, but with reduced services.
The fire also sparked concerns about the air quality and the health risks of inhaling smoke and asbestos fibers. The SFRS advised people to stay indoors and keep their windows closed. They also urged people to wash their clothes and wipe down surfaces if they were exposed to smoke or dust.
The investigation: a criminal act by teenagers
The police launched an investigation into the cause of the fire and arrested three teenagers in connection with it. Two boys, aged 15 and 17, and a girl, aged 14, were charged with willful fire-raising and appeared at Ayr Sheriff Court on Wednesday, September 27.
The police said they were not looking for anyone else in relation to the fire and thanked the public for their assistance. They also appealed for anyone who witnessed the fire or had any information to contact them.
The police also praised the firefighters for their bravery and professionalism in dealing with the fire. They said they were working closely with the SFRS and South Ayrshire Council to ensure the safety of the public and the preservation of evidence.
The future: an uncertain fate for the hotel
The fire has left the Station Hotel in a precarious state. South Ayrshire Council confirmed that their Building Standards team had assessed drone footage taken of the hotel and found that the fire extensively damaged the southern section of the building.
The council said that safety works on the clock tower were scheduled to begin on Monday, October 9, to remove loose timbers and other charred debris. They added that due to the “dangerous condition” of the building, the extent of the work that needed to be done would not become clear until the works commenced.
The council also said that they were exploring all options to secure the future of the hotel, which is an important part of Ayr’s heritage. They said they were committed to working with all stakeholders to find a viable solution for the hotel.
However, some local residents and heritage groups have expressed doubts about whether the hotel can be saved or restored after such a devastating fire. They fear that the hotel may have to be demolished or partially demolished, losing its historic value and character.