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Bollywood film crew flees blaze at Plaza hotel, in Leicester


More than 100 people spent the night at a Salvation Army hall after fire broke out at a hotel.

A total of 133 staff and guests were forced to leave the Sky Plaza hotel, in Leicester, at 1.30am yesterday.

Eleven fire crews were sent to the hotel, in Abbey Street, after smoke was seen coming from a room in the nine-storey building.

The hotel was evacuated as the firefighters tackled the blaze, which is believed to have started in the laundry room on the third floor.

About 100 of the guests were members of a film crew shooting a Bollywood movie.

Actress Niina Kabesa, 30, who plays an opera singer in Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 (Mad, Madder, Maddest 2), said: "I was half-asleep when I heard knocking on my door.

"I ignored it because I looked at my watch and saw it was only about 1.30am and not 5am, when were supposed to be getting up to leave to start filming.

"Then the door burst open and a member of staff was saying 'There is a fire. You need to get out into the street now.'

"I got dressed, grabbed my bag and rushed out.

"It was quite scary and much more dramatic than anything I have filmed."

After everyone had been accounted for, some guests went to other hotels while the majority went to the nearby Mansfield House police station.

The police called Leicester City Council's emergency management team.

Martin Halse, manager of the team, said he called the Salvation Army, which opened its Leicester HQ in nearby Kildare Street at about 3.30am.

Members of the council's team joined workers from the Salvation Army and British Red Cross to look after the displaced guests.

Mr Halse said: "We have contingency plans for such an eventuality. Luckily, no one was hurt and no one needed medical assistance so the British Red Cross helped with hot drinks and blankets."

Rudi Bruinewoud, a major in the Salvation Army, said his organisation was happy to be able to help.

He said: "We made sure people were comfortable and set up a PC projected on to a giant screen so anyone who wanted to could watch the American election vote unfold.

"Some did while others slept."

Associate producer Suniel Saini praised the actions of everyone involved.

He said: "We have lost a day's filming but we were so well looked after it was wonderful."

Mr Saini called the film's catering crew who turned up at the hall and gave everyone a slap-up breakfast.

A fire service spokeswoman said the cause of the blaze is being investigated.

She said it was too early to assess the damage to the hotel.

Guests were in alternative accommodation last night.

Bollywood film crew flees blaze at Plaza hotel, in Leicester

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