By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

The Imperial Hotel in Gatton, Queensland – built in 1878 – has been destroyed by a fire.

One of the staple haunts of the Lockyer Valley, the pub was reported as on fire at 12:45am on Thursday morning. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services responded within eight minutes of having been alerted, however the blaze was too strong and the building was razed to the ground. Luckily, no one was in the hotel at the time of the fire, and no one was injured in the surrounding area.

Fire crews were called in from all over the Lockyer Valley, with 35 firefighters on the scene at one stage. The main fire was extinguished just after 3:00am, however the building had suffered irreparable damage by that stage. Adjacent businesses, including a Supercheap Auto store, suffered some smoke and water damage but were otherwise untouched.

The Queensland Police Service has launched an investigation into the fire and at this stage is treating it as suspicious.

The hotel was in the middle of renovations, after the owners received council approval to turn the venue into a backpacker hostel. However in July, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services had deemed that the hotel was providing illegal and dangerous accommodation, and took the matter to the Queensland Supreme Court, to ensure that the owners could not provide accommodation in their existing rooms.

The Lockyer Valley Mayor, Steve Jones, praised the quick action of the firefighters who were at the scene within minutes.

“It is an extraordinary effort by the fire service to respond so quickly,” he said.

“Their response was phenomenal and potentially saved half of the western side of Gatton's main street from being engulfed in the fire which destroyed the Imperial Hotel.

“Considering these are not full-time fire fighters who live in a country region, this is a truly remarkable effort.”

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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