Bexhill fire crews helped put out the devastating blaze on Eastbourne’s historic pier on Wednesday and were among 80 fire fighters who worked through late afternoon and early evening to get it under control.
Their efforts, watched by holidaymakers on the beach, saved two thirds of the Victorian pier after fire destroyed part of the structure, leaving a metal skeleton.
Damage was however limited to the front with no injuries reported. The fire broke out mid-afternoon behind some wood panelling in the arcade building and visitors were quickly evacuated.
The arcade has been left a shell and a number of small buildings on the structure have been badly damaged, a East Sussex Fire and Rescue service spokesman said.
The command support unit from Bexhill community fire station was present throughout the emergency, and relief crews attended through the night.
Some 20 officers based in Bexhill took part in the attempt to save the pier with all three appliances used.
Chief fire officer Des Pritchard said the outgoing tide and low water pressure had hampered crews but that their hard work had paid off.
The fire shocked many locals and is a blow to Eastbourne’s economy in the height of the summer season.
Bexhill Coastguard also responded and assisted ESFRS by keeping water pumping from the sea to the hoses.
Deputy station officer Gary Tidman commented: “At one point, a pump and firefighters were transferred by inshore lifeboat to the RNLI all weather boat, so the fire could be attacked at close quarters from the sea. Conditions were challenging, as we worked through heat smoke and debris falling from the pier. Eventually the fire was brought under control, limiting damage to the front section of the pier.”
An investigation into the cause is under way.
Smoke from the fire was visible in Bexhill and witnesses were quick to post images and reaction on social media such as Bobby Cross who commented on Facebook: “Terrible news. Such a lovely and historical pier. You could see the smoke from Cooden Beach.”