FIFTY firefighters last night tackled a huge blaze at a four-star hotel and spa.

The fire broke out about 6.30pm in the Victorian wing of Gleddoch House country hotel, on the outskirts of Langbank, Renfrewshire. The wing, which housed the kitchen, nine bedrooms and guests' lounge in the luxury hotel, was destroyed.

A spokesman for Strathclyde Fire Brigade said two chefs had been taken to hospital suffering from shock and smoke inhalation. All other staff and guests were evacuated safely.

Last night, as rain lashed in off the Clyde, the firefighters were attempting to stop the fire spreading to the central block of the hotel and adjoining sports complex. A turntable, almost 50ft in the air, fired jets of water into the roof of the building.

The spokesman said some 50-plus firefighters were in attendance backed by eight pumps, one hydraulic platform and a command and control vehicle.

He added: ''The roof of the old building is away and the interior is ablaze. Our focus is on stopping the blaze spreading to the main hotel and sports complex. However, we have been hampered by problems with water.

''We are 400ft above the Clyde and we have had to take water from a borehole on the golf course and from the hotel's swimming pool.

''We will be here till tomorrow to make sure that the fire does not spread further and that everything is dampened down. The building is in a hazardous state.''

He said early indications were that the fire was started by accident.

A resident said the blaze had broken out on the ground floor of the hotel at about 6.30pm.

He said: ''It started in the kitchen and they tried to put it out themselves but couldn't. They called the fire brigade.

''The hotel has a private water supply and the fire appliances had to take water from the hotel's swimming pool and the pond on the golf course. Tenders then had to run down to Langbank to fill with water.''

The resident said they had trouble shutting off a gas main to the hotel and had to evacuate three houses on the estate.

He claimed that the hotel had just been connected to mains water. He added: ''Scottish Water was asked to turn it on two days ago but did not. There will be questions asked about this.''

A spokesman for Scottish Water said: ''There is a procedure for connecting premises to mains water. I cannot tell what stage this was at.''

A field officer had been sent to the fire after receiving a request for assistance from Strathclyde Fire Brigade, he added.

A small crowd gathered about 500yds away to watch. The fire was visible from Dumbarton on the other side of the River Clyde as thick smoke and 80ft flames rose into the air.

One onlooker said: ''It is an inferno, a fearsome sight with all the flames and sparks bursting into the sky. This is very sad as it was a marvellous old building which will now be completely destroyed.''

Gleddoch House was once the home of Sir James Lithgow, the Glasgow shipping baron. Real Madrid stayed there for the 2002 European Champions League final in Glasgow.