BACKPACKERS who lost passports and other travel documentation in a hostel fire in Inverness will be able to stay on in the city after Highland Council came to their aid.
The council will pay for accommodation for 15 of the back-packers affected by the fire at the Eastgate Hostel who need time to rearrange their travel plans and organise new documentation.
The visitors – from Australia, Czech Republic, France, Mexico, Spain, USA and Japan - will be staying at the Scottish Youth Hostel Association premises at Millburn. The Council will pay for up to four nights accommodation.
Councillor Ian Brown, Leader of The Highland Council’s City of Inverness Area Committee, said the offer of accommodation was a goodwill gesture from the Council as it had no statutory obligation under homeless legislation to house those visitors who found themselves affected by the fire.
He said: “The nationalities of the visitors underlines the worldwide draw of Inverness to young travellers. We are glad to see them and happy to offer Highland hospitality in this time of distress. Fifteen of the 51 backpackers affected by the fire require time to get in touch with their Consulates to organise new documentation and we have found accommodation for them for up to four days.
“I would like to thank all the emergency services for their co-ordinated response to this early morning fire. The Spectrum Centre proved an highly effective and valuable reception centre and my thanks go to their management and staff for making it available at such short notice and to the British Red Cross for managing the centre during the incident and registering the evacuees.”
Councillor Brown added that the help of Inverness BID was also appreciated in contacting City Centre businesses affected by the incident.
Fifty-four people fled the city centre blaze on Wednesday morning.
Two levels of the three-storey building went up in flames during the incident just after 5am.
The blaze at the Eastgate Backpackers’ Hostel was so fierce that the firefighters tackling it had to pull out of the building at one point.
The alarm was raised by the hostel’s manager at around 5am.