12/03/2007 - 13:15

Streets around National Hotel closed, facade may be saved

12/03/2007 - 13:15

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The facade of a heritage-listed hotel in Fremantle may be all that can be saved following a fire which gutted the building, fire authorities say.

Streets around National Hotel closed, facade may be saved

The facade of a heritage-listed hotel in Fremantle may be all that can be saved following a fire which gutted the building, fire authorities say.

Forty firefighters battled the fire, which broke out in the National Hotel last night at about 9.30pm and quickly engulfed the building, the Fire and Emergency Services Association said.

According to a statement released by the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce, the fire started at the top floor and quickly spread, impacting all the floors within the hotel. The roof has collapsed and the top storey parapet walls are unsupported.

The arson squad is investigating the blaze.

The National, in Fremantle's historic West End, was built in 1902 on the site of an earlier National Hotel built in 1887 and had been closed for renovations since 2004.

FESA spokesman Mick Jose said the fire caused $5 million damage and an engineer is today assessing the stability of the building to see whether it, or part of it, can be saved. According to the FCC, high winds may cause the top storey to collapse.

"It could collapse, so we've got to make sure the structural engineer gives it the OK that it won't collapse before we enter the building," Mr Jose said.

"It was a beautiful old building and touch wood they can save some of the facade."

Businesses adjacent to the hotel have been closed by the police until further notice. Market and High Streets have also been closed in the immediate area.

Discussions are taking place to try and get the businesses on the opposite side of the road open as soon as possible, although no final decision has been made at this stage.

The National Hotel is listed on the Municipal Heritage Inventory, National Trust and Register of National Estate.

Alison Bauer, a local historian with the Fremantle Council, said the National was a very important building in Fremantle.

"If they could save the facade that would be good, that's the part that's classified by the National Trust," Ms Bauer said.

"Definitely lost forever are the magnificent wooden staircase and other interior fittings and there was a little tower which was very typical."

 

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