THE managing director of the Bournemouth company which owns a hotel gutted by fire this week says he is "devastated" at the loss.

Flames ripped through the Claremont Hotel in Eastbourne on Friday. Seven guests suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation by firefighters.

Two engines remained at the scene today, Saturday as efforts continue to isolate the gas supply.

There are also fears for the stability of the grade-II listed building, which means fire crews are unable to work in the immediate area around the hotel.

The venue is owned by Daish's Holidays, which is based in West Cliff Gardens, Bournemouth.

George Brown, group managing director, has released a statement about the blaze, which broke out at 8.45am.

"Approximately 130 guests and staff members were quickly evacuated from the Claremont Hotel in Eastbourne due to building safety concerns. Upon investigation, a fire was discovered on the premises," he said.

"We have been informed by the emergency services that all people on site at the time of the fire have been accounted for. A small number of guests sustained minor injuries, which were treated onsite by paramedics.

"Our hotel team has been working closely with the local authorities and emergency services and will be supporting all investigations going forward.

"We have already arranged for return travel home today for all the guests who were staying at the hotel.

"Guests who were due to check into the hotel in the near future have been contacted by Daish’s Holidays, and we are in the process of informing guests who have hotel bookings over the coming days, weeks and months, to assist them with alternative arrangements.

"It is clear that this fire has caused significant damage to the Claremont Hotel, a Grade II Listed building which is not only one of our most popular hotels, but also a prominent and historic Eastbourne landmark.

"We are devastated at the loss of the hotel and will be working tirelessly to support everyone affected by the damage, including current and future guests, employees and local residents.

"We would like to thank the emergency services, the local community and businesses for their support at this difficult time, in particular the Pier Hotel, Afton Hotel and Queens Hotel, who kindly took in our guests and supported our team with looking after our guests."