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Saffron Walden on-call firefighters remember local fire 50 years on

On Thursday 26 December Saffron Walden's firefighters will take part in a remembrance parade before laying a wreath to remember those who lost their lives in a hotel fire in Saffron Walden 50 years ago.

A minute's silence will also take place outside Boots the Chemist, the site of the former Rose and Crown Hotel, at 11am.

At approxamatly 1.30am on 26 December 1969, a fire broke out in a downstairs bar area in Saffron Walden’s Rose and Crown Hotel.

With 33 guests in the building the fire quickly took hold of the building, trapping a number of people on the first, second and third floors. The local fire station, crewed by on-call firefighters, initially sent two fire engines to tackle the blaze.

The first fire engine arrived on scene in within five minutes and the secound arrived a couple of minutes later.

Upon arrival it was clear that further fire service assistance was required to help people escape the burning building. The Officer in Charge (Station Officer Fred Drane) requested this via the fire service control centre who despatched more resources from the wider area.

Saffron Walden’s fire crew carried out heroic rescues in difficult conditions using ladders and breathing apparatus. Sadly though, despite valiant efforts to save the hotel guests, 11 people's lives were lost to the fire.

Many other guests were badly injured due to the intense heat and smoke and required immediate medical attention. The nearby Kings Arms Public House was set up as a refuge area for those involved in the incident and local hospitals were put on alert.

At the height of the blaze the town’s fire brigade were joined by 10 other fire stations from across three counties (Essex, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk) to help tackle the large out of control blaze.

The legacy of the Rose and Crown fire changed the face of fire safety legislation in hotels and boarding houses across the uk for ever. As a result of this tragic incident several firefighters from Saffron Walden Fire Station received letters of commendation, with others receiving bravery awards for their actions to help save others.

50 years later crews will falll silent as a mark of respect and to remember those lost in such tragic circumstances and the wider impact it has had on their extended families over the years at this difficult time of year.

Forever in our hearts and prayers - we will remember them.

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