A POLICE arson investigation is underway tonight after a blaze ripped through part of an empty hotel and former nightclub in the early hours of this morning.
Up to nine fire crews took ten hours to fight the fire at the former Tall Trees hotel, on Worsall Road near Yarm, after they were called out just after 3.30am.
One of the oldest parts of the building, the former Macmillans nightclub, was severely fire damaged and a connecting building, where the fire is believed to have started, has been destroyed.
Cleveland Police confirmed that the blaze was being treated as suspicious and an investigation was underway.
Javed Majid, owner of the Tall Trees Hotel, which closed last year, told The Northern Echo: “You don’t know how upsetting it is. It is very upsetting for me. We have been up all night.
“Jake, my son, got called out.
“I have got a lot of memorabilia left which we were keeping. That has been destroyed. We were taking some things out and putting them in storage but we have lost a lot of it.”
Mr Javed was given planning permission earlier this year to build 330 homes on the former hotel site.
His spokesman yesterday thanked the fire brigade for their “prompt and efficient response” and said it was too early to say how it would affect his plans for the site.
Group manager John Feeney, of Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “The white part of the building is fire damaged, and parts are severely fire damaged. Our concern is to make the building as safe as possible.
“Our main issue was getting water to the site because it is in a semi-rural location and the bank to the river behind was too steep for our equipment, but we managed to pump water down the road from a nearby hydrant.”
He said the building was unoccupied and there was security in place on the site.
Tall Trees closed down a year ago and the former adjoining nightclub, Club M, was demolished. Nearby residents had recently been raising concerns about the rubble of the old nightclub which is still on the site.
The older nightclub on site, Macmillans, which closed when Club M opened, was severely damaged in yesterday’s fire.
Mr Majid told The Northern Echo earlier this week that he was in advanced negotiations with a housebuilder who wanted to buy the land for development.