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Flood hit hotel The Grove Ferry Inn in Upstreet near Canterbury is now damaged by fire

By Aidan Barlow

A popular hotel and pub which was devastated by the winter floods has now been forced to close after a fire broke out in a linen cupboard.

Two fire engines were called to the Grove Ferry Inn in Upstreet at 11am this morning after flames began to spread into neighbouring rooms.

The Grove Ferry Inn

General manager Lucy Crawford helped guests get to safety and looked on as fire crews used hoses to beat back the inferno.

Staff involved in the clean-up. Lucy Crawford (centre) with Richard Miller, right, and Lee Frangiamore (left)

She said: "It started in the linen cupboard before 10am this morning. We had two fire engines with all the hoses coming up into the hotel windows. There was blowing black smoke.

"Two members of the team were up there but when it got too big we had to leave it.

"At first I didn't realise how big it was, it's really scary and you just don't realise. It's hard to watch your pub going up in flames.

Damage to the corridor after the fire

"In one room guests were still asleep, while the rest were in the pantry having breakfast.

"I feel upset at what's happened. I'm not angry though, once you're outside looking on then there's nothing more you can do.

Burnt bed linen

"One of the staff members has helped with a little bit of comedy, he bought a year's supply of Febreze because of the smell of the ash upstairs.

"We had water for 19 weeks with the floods in the winter. Things had started to pick up, then we have this.

"I guess now all we're waiting for is the flying locusts."

A sign telling customers what has happened

Staff were at the pub for the clear up operation. They placed a sign outside which read: "We always think 'it will never happen to us'... but today it did. Our first floor caught on fire and we have lots of damage to fix. We will be closed today."

She added that a fire investigation will have to take place, and repairs will have to be made to the plumbing and electricity after the fuse box melted and the water mains burst.

The guests had been part of a wedding party at nearby Preston Court.

The groom's mother and the best man's parents were staying in the hotel, but have now been found alternative accommodation.

A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue Service said that they responded to the call at 9.38am. They had been due to go on strike from 10am until 3pm, but firefighters continued until they had brought the fire under control.

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