Staff at Exeter Marks & Spencer watched the blaze take hold…

Free water handouts in city centre as mains supplies are hit by ongoing fire operation

FREE water is being handed out to those affected by the shortage of liquids following the huge fire in Exeter City Centre.
Read more here.

People on the scene have reported a loud explosion from the Royal Clarence Hotel.

Photographer Thomas Heywood of @CameraFirm said the loud noise was heard around 5pm.

He said: "I heard and felt a loud boom. I could feel it in my chest as well. It sounded as though it was an explosion rather than a wall collapsing.

"Some people were speculating it might have been a gas canister."

One of Thomas's pictures from Cathedral Green

People have posted videos from around the city centre as the fire operation unfolded during the way. Click here to scroll through them on our website.

South West Water says as a result of the demand for water in the city centre to tackle the fire, supplies across the city have been affected.

They say the mains supply has been depleted in the city due to the large volume of water needed by the fire service.

Supplies as far away as Wonford have been affected. Some city centre businesses reported low pressure and disuption during the afternoon.

The company says supplies should be back to normal later tonight.

As Exeter comes to terms with the devastating fire which gutted the historic Royal Clarence Hotel, those who work there are optimistic it will be rebuilt.

Speaking at the scene of Friday's fire as firefighters battled to bring the blaze under control, head chef Alex Gibbs, who has worked at the iconic venue for three years, said: “It’s quite emotional, because there is a huge tie not only to the city but in the trade as well.

“My phone has been hot since half past five this morning, talking to suppliers and my team, trying to let them know not to come anywhere near the place and keep safe. It is such a shame.

“I’m hoping the insurance pays out well and we can rebuild it, and can get back to where we were – and even better – for the future.

“If we can get it back up and running, the team are solid. We’ve got to be optimistic.

“It’s such an iconic building, it was beautiful. The function rooms are iconic in themselves, and then you’ve got the restaurant which holds its name.

“It’s the oldest hotel in the UK, that’s known of, it’s been there for many, many years. It survived the Blitz, and now the fire next door has taken its toll.”

A spokeswoman for ABode Hotels said: “All our guests and staff were evacuated and all are safe and accounted for. We are continuing to monitor the situation and all those affected by the fire.

“Following the sad events of today, we would first like to thank both our staff, who ensured the safety of all of our guests staying with us at the time, and all the emergency services involved.

“We are working with the fire services to ensure the safety of the building currently. We are contacting guests due to stay or dine with us. Those with enquiries can call 01392 319 955.”

The cathedral has been closed to the public during the afternoon.

But a service was going ahead at 5.30pm.

A special prayer was issued on the cathedral's website:

Merciful and loving God

We bring before you those working tirelessly to bring the fire on our beloved Cathedral Green under control.

Grant them all the skills they need at this time.

We ask that you give strength and resilience to our Firefighters, Police and those supporting them.

We pray for the Residents in their anxiety and those whose businesses are in jeopardy.

May they know your comfort and peace.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Here's the scene on Exeter Quay earlier as the fire service set up a unit to ensure access to enough water.

The Fire Service has sent High Volume Pumping Appliances to Exeter Quay to ensure there is enough water available to tackle the fire.

Amy Baker tells us staff from On the Waterfront have been giving out pizza out to firefighters on Exeter Quay. Here's more reaction from social media.

Chris Stanley took these pictures of firefighters being fed by staff at Tesco in Exeter High Street.

There has been lots of praise on social media for the efforts by the fire crews tackling the huge blaze, and sadness at the extent of the damage.

If you want to show your support, or if you have been affected by this major event, as well as commenting online on

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