Dramatic fire engulfs iconic Powys hotel

A SERIOUS fire swept through the iconic Metropole Hotel on a “dramatic” night in Llandrindod Wells.

Smoke was seen billowing out from the luxury 4-star Victorian hotel after the fire alarm was raised just after 6pm on Tuesday, April 13, with local fire crews on the scene within minutes.

Firefighters have now confirmed that the fire was contained to a laundry room basement, but said the smoke had spread throughout the rear of the hotel.

Firefighters extinguished the fire using ten breathing apparatus, four hose reel jets and four thermal imaging cameras. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service also deployed an Incident Command Unit to the incident.

Crews from Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells, Rhayader, Llanwrtyd Wells, Talgarth and Knighton attended the blaze.

Group Manager Craig Thomas, Northern Division Commander for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said “When crews arrived at the scene, they were met with a fully established fire in the laundry room and quickly established that they needed additional resources to contain the fire.

“Our firefighters worked extremely well in arduous and complex conditions to extinguish the fire and stop it from spreading to the main hotel.”

Metropole owner Justin Baird-Murray took to Facebook to give local residents an update on the fire via a short video – praising the “absolutely amazing” work of firefighters.

As if there wasn’t enough for Mr Baird-Murray to contend with – he now has significant fire and smoke damage to overcome, on top of the major headache of trying to recover from being closed for the majority of the last year. Mr Baird-Murray revealed last October that the Metropole’s turnover was already down £2.3 million on the year.

“So, we’ve had quite a dramatic evening here,” Mr Baird-Murray said in his video, posted on the Metropole’s Facebook page.

“About 6.15pm the fire alarms went off, it was just me and Judy here. I went to investigate and our fire panel told us where to go. I went down to the lower ground floor and, sure enough, there was a fire.

County Times: Metropole owner Justin Baird-Murray outside the iconic hotel, with fire crews still on the scene

“It turned out to be quite a serious fire. I phoned the fire brigade, who showed an incredibly swift reaction. The first tender from Llandrindod were on site within 10 minutes, they have done a fantastic job. We had crews from Rhayader, Builth, Talgarth, Llanwrtyd and I think Knighton as well. The fire men and women who have been here have absolutely amazing.”

Despite the major financial losses suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns, which have strangled businesses throughout Wales, Mr Baird-Murray struck a defiant tone – determined that the fire will not sidetrack recovery plans.

“It’s all quite dramatic but I can assure everybody it’s not the end of the world,” he said.

“The fire was contained quite quickly, the damage is not that significant, the main problem is the smoke because it went through the whole hotel which is pretty awful, but we’ll sort that out, we can manage that problem.

“The most important thing is that no-one was hurt and, in good time, we’ll be open again and looking forward to welcoming people back here. Thanks for the messages of support we’ve had, I really appreciate that. We look forward to seeing you soon.”

There was an outpouring of support on social media for Mr Baird-Murray and the 100+ bedroom Temple Street hotel and spa – built in 1896 and one of the most recognisable structures in Mid Wales, let alone Llandrindod.

Chris James Brittain, posting on the Llandrindod Solutions page, said: “Thoughts and prayers with Justin and all his team at the Metropole Hotel.

“Having to close due to Covid. I saw some smiling staff putting up a tent on the back garden yesterday and was so pleased to see that. Now another setback.

“I hope everyone is safe and the damage to a minimum. Stay strong guys, you can and will overcome this.

“Thanks also to our amazing emergency services, especially the fire brigade this evening.”

Adrian Willford added: “Such a shock. Thanks to your excellent alarm system and speedy fire fighters, the hotel was made safe.

“You really didn’t need this on top of everything else at this present time.”

Mandy Bassett said: “So sorry to hear about this but glad to hear that nobody was hurt, and that the building has survived.

“I will look forward to staying once again when you’re up and going. Take care, you know you’ll come back better and stronger.”

County Times | Llandrindod Wells & Rhayader