Sidmouth residents reported gaps in the security fencing surrounding a derelict hotel just weeks before it was ripped apart by a fire.

According to View Online, residents living close to the site of the former Fortfield Hotel were terrified as the fire engulfed the building in December last year, with one describing it as "like something off the television".

There were concerns the flames would spread to a tree close to the residents' apartment complex.

80 firefighters were needed to tackle the fire, which damaged the building's roof and third and fourth floors. It is thought no one was inside at the time.

"It was horrifying, but we knew something like this was going to happen," resident Pam Sage told the news provider.

"Two weeks ago we spoke to local councillors that the bottom fence was gaping open, so anybody could get in there."

Some people had reported squatters were living in the building in the past few weeks, the news provider said.ADNFCR-3337-ID-800329784-ADNFCR