Man charged following hotel fire

A man has been charged with arson with intent to endanger life following a hotel fire in which Norfolk holidaymakers were among the guests that had to be evacuated.

Guests at the Tantons Hotel, in Bideford, Devon, were awoken in the early hours of Tuesday to find a fire had broken out on the third floor of the Grade II listed building.

Anthony Westhead, 63, from Folkestone in Kent was today charged with arson with intent to endanger life and was due to appear before Barnstaple Magistrates Court tomorrow.

More than 50 guests fled the hotel and four were rescued from the roof after the fire broke out on Tuesday.

Sixty firefighters were involved in tackling the blaze.

Among those staying at the hotel was a party travelling with Norwich-based company Sunrise Direct - the party included 15 people from Norfolk, six from Suffolk, seven from Cambridgeshire and 12 from Essex.

The Sunrise Direct party had been on the first night of a four night holiday when the blaze happened. Following the fire Sunrise Direct arranged for the guests to return to East Anglia, and Sunrise Direct managing director Paul Bennett said they arrived home late on Tuesday.

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• Do you know anybody affected by the fire at the Tantons Hotel? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email

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