Around 100 firefighters - from the Isle of Wight and Hampshire - were involved in the effort to fight and control a major fire at Sandown's derelict Ocean Hotel, over the weekend.

Flames were spotted on Saturday night, quickly taking hold through windows and the building's roof, creating clouds of thick smoke in the town.

A huge emergency effort swung into action, an investigation was started, and hundreds of people have been back and forth to the scene.

But how did it all unfold and what happens now?

Isle of Wight County Press:

Photo by Stephen Sheaf

Here's what we know about the Ocean Hotel and the devastating fire that tore through the derelict building....

When was the Ocean Hotel built?

The building is almost 200 years old and has housed naturalist Charles Darwin and author Lewis Carroll, among those who have stayed there.

It boasted 96 bedrooms, with easy High Street access and amazing views of Sandown Bay and its six mile stretch sand.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Sandown's Ocean Hotel in its heyday

Why was it derelict?

The Ocean Hotel had been left in good order when it was sold, in the belief it was to become a luxury care facility.

It was bought by the Carlauren Group, along with neighbouring Kings Bar and a hotel in Shanklin. The group announced plans to develop the site, but instead it lay empty.

It became derelict and matters worsened when the Carlauren Group faced financial troubles, eventually falling into liquidation.

Why was it in the news?

In March, a group of squatters moved in, led by a filmmaker. They said their occupation was a protest, fuelled by concerns about the state of the hotel.

They later left the site, after being reassured that its future was secure.

At the time, documentary maker Arron Swaffar said: "After hearing more windows had been damaged across the hotel site, I returned to the building to see what was going on.

"I was disheartened to find more damage, and nothing yet being done to protect the place.

"Feeling quite upset, I filmed what I could and have put it all in a video, which I think is the most concise way to express my thoughts on this matter and everything that has happened."

The hotel has been dogged by ongoing vandalism and break-ins. 

Who owns the hotel now?

In April, the hotel was sold, in a deal announced by the joint liquidators of the Carlauren Group, according to a statement via a PR company.

MC2 said Quantuma and Kroll had overseen the sale of The Auckland House Hotel in Shanklin's Queen's Road and Sandown's The Ocean Hotel and Kings House Bar.

As part of a wider seven-property sale, no jobs were saved at any of the former Carlauren-owned hotels.

The deal had been in the offing for a while and was mistakenly announced in February, when a typo change the meaning of a message sent to Isle of Wight Councillor Ian Ward.

After the fire, the Isle of Wight County Press has contacted the liquidator through its PR company and has previously tried to get hold of the new owner, for comment.

When did the fire start?

Flames were spotted at the Ocean Hotel on Saturday night (May 8). Within minutes, ten fire appliances were on the scene.

Roads were closed and buses were diverted during the incident, local people were told to close their windows and doors and those watching the effort to save the hotel were told to move on, as thick smoke wafted around the town.

Fire crews from Sandown, Shanklin, Ryde, Newport, Ventnor, East Cowes and Cowes were all called to the scene.

All floors of the four-storey hotel were affected and 15 firefighters wearing breathing apparatus, five main jets and two aerial ladder platforms were used to bring the fire under control.

Firefighters from Hampshire were also sent across the Solent, to back up Island crews.

Hampshire Constabulary's Sergeant Sharland praised members of the public for their support: "I would like to say thank you to those who were supportive and understanding, as we closed off large areas of the town, to create safe working space for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire Service and ensured the public remained safe from the fallout of smoke."

Why were firefighters there on Sunday?

Firefighters were called back to the Ocean Hotel on Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the blaze.

Crews from Ryde and Shanklin responded, just after 5:30pm, a member of the public reported hearing a fire alarm in the area.

What is happening now?

A police and fire investigation is underway.

No arrests have been made over a major fire at Sandown's Ocean Hotel, Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed.

The force says the three are assisting police with their enquiries, but are not under arrest.

Meanwhile, a business owner who shares the site has been told to stop trading, due to the building being considered unsafe.