31 July 2014

Around a third of Eastbourne Pier has been destroyed after a fire broke out at the Grade II listed structure yesterday.

Fire crews were called to the 144-year-old pier at 3.13pm after reports of a fire in the wall panelling of a building housing arcade games.

The pier was evacuated and no one was injured.

At its height, 80 firefighters were tackling the blaze from the shoreline, the sea and underneath the pier.

Des Prichard, Chief Fire Officer of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, explained: “Pier fires are notoriously difficult to fight because there is one way on and one way off – and the tide can caused additional problems.

“The hard work of our firefighters has paid off in that we have been able to save a section of this iconic landmark, but I know for the people of Eastbourne this will still be devastating.”

Firefighters remain on the scene, damping down to ensure the fire is completely out

The cause of the fire is still being investigated but initial reports suggest it may have been started by an electrical fault.

David Tutt, leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, commented: “Our understanding is the fire appears to have started in wall panelling, which would lead you to believe it was electrical.

“Obviously when the fire investigators can complete their work we’ll know for sure.”

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.