Investigation reveals cause of devastating fire at The George in Rye

Fire investigators have completed a probe into the cause of a fire at the George in Rye.

The George in Rye hotel on fire on Saturday. Picture: Elaine Thomas
The George in Rye hotel on fire on Saturday. Picture: Elaine Thomas

The historic hotel went up in flames just after 4.30am on Saturday (July 20).

An investigation into the cause of the fire concluded it to be accidental and ‘electric in origin’. A fire service spokesman said any further detail would be ‘dependent on further investigations’.

Eight fire engines and 40 firefighters were sent to tackle the flames.

The George in Rye hotel on fire yesterday (July 20). Picture: Elaine Thomas

The hotel, which is on four floors and has 34 rooms, was evacuated and there were no reported injuries.

Due to the age and construction of the hotel, the fire quickly spread through hidden cavities and took hold in the roof void, the spokesman said.

Additional fire appliances, including an aerial ladder platform, were sent to tackle the escalating fire, he said.

Incident Commander Dan Channon added: “This was a challenging incident due to the complex nature of this old building in a confined part of the town.

“Crews had to work extremely hard in arduous conditions, using breathing apparatus, to bring the fire under control and prevent it from spreading to other properties.”

Firefighters who rushed to the scene also managed to save a bride’s wedding dress.

Matthew and Louise Sargent, who were due to marry at the venue on Sunday, were forced to cancel their wedding

However, they were saved by another venue in Rye which stepped in to help.

While firefighters tackled the flames at The George, Matthew called Saltcote Place, in Rye, to ask about the possibility of hosting their wedding their instead.

Owner Paul King agreed and the couple tied the knot on Sunday (July 21).

Mr King said: “They are a lovely couple. I got a call from Matthew at about 9am on the morning of the fire and he was so calm – you would have thought nothing had happened.

“He said ‘can I come and see you?’ He told me his parents had been woken up by the sirens and said the alarm had gone off twice during the night.

“They had wedding insurance so we put the plans into place and held the ceremony the next day.

“The couple are from Rochester and some of their relatives had flown in for the wedding so they needed to get it done.”

In a public statement to customers, Alex and Katie, owners of The George in Rye said: “After 15 years (in our ownership) of the George being open seven days a week, 24 hours a day the doors have had to be temporarily shut due to a fire in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“Thankfully everyone was evacuated safely and damage, although significant, has left much of the building intact. We’d like to extend a massive thanks to the members of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service who worked tirelessly to save as much of our beautiful historic building as possible.

“The hotel has suffered water damage as a result of the firefighting, which has impacted the restaurant and ballroom. We will also lose the use of some of the bedrooms whilst renovations to the roof are undertaken. We will be piecing together more information for you over the coming days but rest assured we intend to keep you in the loop at every stage.

“We are working very hard to get the George up and running as soon as possible and are determined to re-emerge even better than before.

“We’d like to say a massive thank you for all the messages and offers of support. We have been truly touched by everyone’s love for the George and the goodwill of our local and wider community.”

After Saturday’s fire, Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd said: “Thank you East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service for your swift and effective response to the fire at The George in Rye.

“We’re all so grateful that no one was hurt. And I gather firefighters managed to save the wedding dress too.”