FIREFIGHTERS were this afternoon damping down the blaze that tore through a derelict hotel.

Pictures taken today by South Marston resident show the extent of the damage to the former country club.

Crews were called just after 9pm last night to reports of a fire at the now derelict South Marston Hotel.

Firefighters from Swindon, Stratton, Westlea, Royal Wootton Bassett, Corsham and Warminster fought the fire well into Saturday morning.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service say that the fire is now under control, with crews from Westlea and Swindon damping down hot spots in the hotel.

South Marston resident Stacy Woolhouse, 47, told the Adver that the blaze had spread through the hotel in “minutes”.

“I was sat watching the telly with my wife. I looked out the window and I saw black smoke.”

A neighbour had already called the fire brigade by the time Stacy ran round to get a better look at the fire. “Within 11 minutes it was totally running away.”

Stacy was able to take pictures of the interior of the hotel around 6am this morning. The images, taken from outside the building, show charred beams and small pockets of flame in the old ground floor rooms.

It is the second time in a week that the fire service has responded to a call in the same location.

On Tuesday afternoon, firefighters responded to reports that the building was alight but on arrival they found that it was actually a controlled fire started by contractors working at the site.

The former hotel was once a popular venue for weddings and conferences and its leisure facilities were used by many in the local area.

It was closed in July 2016 to the surprise and disappointment of staff, many of whom had worked at the site for a number of years. Some 45 jobs were lost as a result.

Just last month, the Adver reported that groups describing themselves as 'urban explorers' had gained entry to the buildings and filmed themselves moving around inside.

The footage showed the intruders in the squash courts, reception area and leafing through staff log books.

They also walked around the swimming pool which appeared to have been vandalised extensively in the 11 months since the site had closed.

South Marston residents have called on developers to restore the old Victorian hotel building, which was once home to the village’s vicar.

Set up this morning, a petition on website has been signed by 68 supporters so far.

Petition organiser and former resident of 30 years Mark Titcombe, 33, who now lives in London, said: “The agreement with the planning authority was that it would be kept. I think that what a lot of residents want to see is a gesture of a kind from the developer to restore it.”