A COUPLE from the United States of America have kept their promise of returning to Salisbury – 25 years after the hotel they were staying in caught fire.

Bill, 73, and Charlotte, 71, Barnes, who are from North Carolina, have been recalling their memories of the fire that broke out at the White Hart back in August, 1994.

On returning to the city and the hotel, they said: “It feels strange…yet familiar. Things are not exactly as I remember it but it has been twenty-five years.

“We had promised the town that we’d be back to visit in spite of the fire.”

The couple’s letter appeared on the front page of the Salisbury Journal in the coverage on the fire.

Charlotte said: “We were here with a group called Power Places Tours to look at the crop circles and to meet with Zecharia Sitchin, their “stone circles” expert. He had written a book, The12th Planet, part of his series of books called The Earth Chronicles and I was so excited to finally get to meet him.

“We had dinner with him and his wife after the fire and my husband was late meeting us for dinner because he was with the firemen picking out our wet clothing.

“One of my blouses had a hole burned in its sleeve and our airline tickets got burned up. But everyone in the tour was safe.

“My husband had left the conference to film crop circles from the air and when he looked back from the pilot’s car at the city he saw smoke and wondered what was on fire.

“At the conference they announced, ‘We’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is the White Hart is on fire. The good news is that no one has been hurt’.”

“I wrote a letter that was published the next morning in your paper thanking everyone who had helped us,” she added.

“When we got back to London, we went in to get our airline tickets replaced and told the man what had happened and he said, “You can’t prove that” and we pulled out your newspaper with my letter on the front page and that was all the proof they needed. We got our tickets replaced.”

The pair framed the Journal front page they were featured in which hangs in their office. Accompanying it in the frame is a small bag containing some charred fragments from the fire.