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Historic hotel fire sparks weekly to publish second special edition

A fire at a historic hotel prompted a weekly newspaper to produce an additional special edition the day after its regular publication date.

The Midhurst and Petworth Observer took the step of publishing on Friday, as well as its usual Thursday edition, following the blaze at Midhurst’s 400-year-old Angel Inn.

More than 30 people, including “a number” of Ukrainian refugees housed in the hotel, were evacuated after the fire broke out in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The blaze was initially covered by the Observer’s National World sister website Sussex World.

Midhurst Angel

In a comment piece explaining the decision to produce Friday’s print special, pictured, editorial director Gary Shipton wrote: “I do believe that the public would also want to see these very sad events recorded in a permanent form in their trusted local newspaper which is why we have produced an additional issue of the Midhurst and Petworth Observer.

“This is not about ‘selling more newspapers’ – the costs of producing this special edition are likely to be greater than the income we would receive from their sales, especially when this week’s normal paper has only just gone on sale.

“A local newspaper like the Observer does have a responsibility to stand side by side with the community it serves and I know residents would expect us to do so on this occasion.

“Fortunately, no-one appears to been hurt in this fire thanks to the immense bravery of the emergency services. But in historic terms, the damage to this building is immense.

“Midhurst is proud of its heritage and so are we. This is a special community that will always support each other.

“That is why we believe local people would expect us to play our part – to report faithfully on these events, to praise those who have made a difference, and to help lead the debate in ensuring this building is suitably restored in the future.”