A 400-year-old hotel that was said to be housing Ukrainian refugees was among buildings engulfed by a fire in Midhurst, West Sussex.
The fire was thought to have broken out shortly after 1am on Thursday at a property on North Street before spreading to the roof of the Angel Inn next door.
Local resident Hilton Holloway, who witnessed the fire, told the PA news agency around 30 people, including some children, were evacuated from the hotel.
“There were a number of Ukrainian refugees in the hotel, which had around 15 rooms,” he said.
“I spoke to one young woman who seemed relatively calm.”
Photos and video taken by Mr Holloway, who lives opposite the hotel on the town’s main street, showed the spread of the fire from an adjoining building to the roof of the Angel Inn.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services called the fire “significant”. Ten fire engines, an aerial ladder platform, water carrier and off-road vehicle responded to the incident.
Shortly after 6am the fire service said the incident had “escalated” and 14 fire engines were on the scene tackling the blaze.
“Over 30 people have been evacuated from the building and firefighters are working hard to bring the fire under control,” West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services said.
Speaking from the scene, area manager Richard Abbot advised commuters North Street would remain closed and asked the public to avoid the area.
“It is too early in the incident to know the cause of the fire, however we will be investigating as soon as it is safe to do so,” he said.
Sussex Police, which sent officers to the scene, warned road closures would be in place in the local area.
A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service said that four people were treated at the scene but did not require hospital treatment.
He said: “I can confirm ambulance crews, including our Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) attended the scene alongside fellow emergency services.
“Four people were treated and all were discharged at the scene. While the majority of our resources have left the scene, a small number remain to support the fire service.”