The alarm was raised at 1.00am by police patrol and local people. Despite arriving 5 minutes after the first emergency call, the fire-service was unable to get the fire under control until 8.00am. Reports were initially of a small fire on the pier but the construction was quickly engulfed in flame with residents reporting hearing a series of explosions.
The pier was closed in 2006 due to fears about the structures safety and locals had been campaigning for it to be saved. The Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust was established to raise funds in order to be able to renovate and reopen the historic attraction.The Victorian landmark was opened in 1872 and was originally 910ft long, it was host to big name concerts such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Bob Marley and the Rolling Stones. Now the ballroom at the end of the pier has been completely burnt out and most of the upper level has been destroyed.
Sixty fire-fighters were at the scene at the peak of the blaze but little could be done to save the construction. Estimates suggest that 95% of the piers superstructure was totally destroyed by the fire, the second in its history. Councillor Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings borough council said ‘The firefighters have worked heroically to try and contain the blaze but unfortunately because of the wind, the state of the pier and the danger of going on it, the fire really took hold’.
The priority of fire-service was to preserve as much of the structure as they could, including the steel work frame in the hope that the pier could be rebuilt. Earlier this year the council had agreed to make a compulsory purchase of the pier and the process of redevelopment was underway. The Hastings pier and white rock Trust had invited architects to submit designs for its redevelopment the day before the fire took place. Councillor Jeremy Birch said ‘The council will now be looking at a new structural survey so that we can be absolutely clear on the degree of damage to the sub-structure. Then we can see what the future holds for this iconic building on our seafront.’
No one was hurt in the blaze but the cause of the fire remains unknown. Two teenagers from St Leonards have been held for questioning on suspicion of arson.
Image courtesy of The Daily Mail