18th June 1937
Pollet guest house fire claimed its third victim
A St Peter Port guest house fire claimed three lives in mid-June 1937. Two of the dead were holiday makers.
One of the dead, 55-year-old Arthur Marillat, was holidaying in Guernsey from his home in Twickenham. He was staying at the fated guest house with his wife, also 55. It was Mrs Marillat’s first ever trip away from the mainland.
The 13-room boarding house, which was above a butcher’s shop, was being occupied by thirty-five people, including the owners Mr and Mrs Pugh. The fire broke out without warning at around four o’clock in the morning and quickly took hold of the building.
As reported by the Portsmouth Evening News, “two men walking outside saw smoke and at once raised the alarm. The building flared up and in a few moments the occupants appeared at the windows, many of the women shrieking for help.”
Many of those who got out alive only escaped by jumping from the upper storey windows. Several were caught by the proprietor’s wife, a pair of police constables and a cafe owner from across the street.
However, Mrs Marillat was not so lucky. She fell 40 feet, and injured herself so badly that she was killed. Her husband, too, fell badly, and fractured the base of his skull. He was taken to hospital but died at 4am the following day – 18th June. According to the Nottingham Journal, he had “lapsed into a semi-conscious state before his death”.
He died a hero
The fire’s third victim was Alfred Blower, the father of the guest house owner. Despite being a 67-year old invalid, Blower ran back into the house to rescue a girl that he thought was trapped inside. The girl had already escaped, but Blower was never seen again. His body was found several hours later, once the fire had been extinguished.
Not much of the building was left by the time the flames had been put out. The fire had been so intense that the roof fell in, leaving only the walls standing.