A fire that broke out at a luxury five-star hotel on Loch Lomond and killed two people may have been caused by a Christmas tree.
Staff who first raised the alarm at Cameron House Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond are understood to have told 999 operators that a 12ft-high decorated tree in the main reception area was ablaze.
It is thought that the tree was the cause of the fire that killed two men.
The 12-ft Christmas tree in the main reception area of the Cameron House Hotel may have caused the fatal blaze at the luxury hotel which killed two men
A source told the Sunday Post: ‘The first call to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service came from the hotel reception to report the tree was alight, at 6.40am on Monday morning. The 999 call was made by a member of staff.’
The flames are believed to have spread up through the hotel, along cavities between the brick outer walls and wood panelled or plastered interiors.
An emergency service worker who attended the blaze confirmed the tree had been identified as a priority for investigators.
He said the 70 firefighters tackling the blaze, in which two men died and six people were taken to hospital, were faced with deadly, dense smoke.
Simon Midgley (right), 32 and his partner Richard Dyson (left), 38, died in the fire that also saw six people injured
He said: ‘Smoke spread so quickly that fire crew could barely see in front of themselves as they scoured rooms looking for trapped victims.
‘Flames had travelled up the void between the outside and inner walls.
‘This acted like a chimney to stoke the spread of the fire.’
An emergency service worker who attended the blaze confirmed the tree had been identified as a priority for investigators
By noon the floors were caving in and fire crews were ordered to evacuate the building for fear of their own lives.
Temperatures reached 1,000C, setting the roof ablaze.
Simon Midgley, 32 a freelance journalist and PR manager, and his partner Richard Dyson, 38, a TV producer, died in the fire.
By noon the floors of the hotel were caving in and fire crews were ordered to evacuate the building with temperatures reaching 1,000C
One of the men is understood to have been found close to a window, after trying to force his way out.
Attempts were made by paramedics to resuscitate one of the couple on the hotel lawn but they couldn’t revive him.
Newlyweds Andrew and Louise Logan watched in horror as their baby son, Jimmy, was tucked under the arm of a fireman and carried down a ladder from their third-floor bedroom window.
The three of them were rushed to hospital in Glasgow, suffering smoke inhalation, but were later discharged.
Staying in the room directly below the Logans were Matt and Hannah Munns, and their five-year-old son.
70 firefighters are reported to have tackled the blaze which got so hot that the roof caught fire
Matt, 47, from Leeds, said: ‘Just after half-six in the morning we were woken by the fire alarm going off.
‘I thought it was a test drill then I began to hear shouts and screams.
‘My wee boy opened the bedroom door and smoke started coming in and we realised it was for real.
‘We grabbed phones, shoes and coats and ran out into the corridor.
Newlyweds Andrew and Louise Logan watched in horror as their baby son, Jimmy, was tucked under the arm of a fireman and carried down a ladder
‘We managed to get to the reception but it was already in flames and we couldn’t get out that way.
‘We could see the flames through the double doors.
‘It was very frightening because there was a lot of smoke but one of the staff shouted on us to follow them to another way out and it was such a relief to be outside in the fresh air. Then the windows started blowing outwards and we watched the drama as the firemen rescued a baby from the room above ours.
‘All the time I was trying to shield everything from my boy.
‘He was pretty upset and wanted to go home so later that day we drove back to Leeds.’
A total of 200 guests had to be evacuated from the building.
200 guests were evacuated from the five-star hotel with some fleeing the blaze dressed in little more than their hotel robes
The fire continued to burn for 24 hours and has left the five-star hotel – a 300-year-old mansion – very badly damaged.
A Fire Scotland spokeswoman said: ‘The fire at Cameron House Hotel is still under a police and fire investigation. We can’t comment on the cause at this time.’
Cameron House declined to comment.
The hotel is a 300-year-old mansion that has hosted guests such as Robbie Williams and Sir Sean Connery
After the fire, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: ‘This is absolutely dreadful news. My heart goes out to the loved ones of those who have died, and to all those affected.
‘My thanks also to our brave firefighters and emergency services.’
Hotel guests – many wearing little more than bath robes – were taken to the hotel’s Boathouse restaurant while fire crews fought the blaze a few hundred yards away.
Simon Midgley was a freelance journalist and PR manager, while his partner Richard Dyson, was a TV producer
From the safety of the restaurant, many posted messages on social media to let their loved ones know they were all right.
Ainsley Huxham from Dumfries, tweeted: ‘Never have I ever been so scared of death until this morning waking up to a fire outside my hotel room.’
Jim Slight, 57, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, described the horrific scene as he and his wife fled.
Mr Slight, who had been celebrating his birthday at the hotel, said: ‘The alarm went off at 6.40am. We exited via a fire door and then walked past the front of the building and the main entrance.
‘Smoke was billowing from the building. We could see two of the rooms were filled with smoke. And just as we were passing the corner of the building we heard glass smashing above. That’s when three people came out on the balcony.’
The hotel is a popular wedding venue, has a championship standard course for golfers and houses the Michelin star Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond restaurant
Cameron House is a popular wedding venue and houses the Michelin-starred Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond restaurant. It last changed hands for around £80million in 2015.
The hotel is said to have had showbiz guests including Robbie Williams, Cameron Diaz and Sir Sean Connery.
The luxury hotel is owned by US investment firm KSL Capital Partners, which was reported to have paid between £70 million and £80m for the 132-room property in 2015.