Pier fires in the UK may be related to hard times as owners struggle to pay rates and electricity bills




SUSPECTED ARSON - So far the police have drawn a blank, but what will the future hold. How many fires does it take before the police raid the offices of the owners past and present to try and find any link to a suspected arsonist. The clues are not likely to be found in the ashes of the fire and on the site, but in the offices of the operators. Sadly, that is the nature of fraud. We doubt very much that Sussex police looked at any of the paperwork belonging to the previous owners, let alone seizing their computers. Correct us if we are wrong!




Exhaustive enquiries into a fire which badly damaged Eastbourne Pier on 30 July last year have concluded with no clear picture of what caused the blaze. 


Detectives trawled through more than 120 hours of closed circuit television (CCTV) footage - much of it recovered by scientists who rebuilt heat-damaged hard drives to obtain images - but discovered nothing of significance.

Additionally, phone data and witness interviews, combined with extensive information supplied by members of the public, all contributed to a detailed and thorough investigation.

Working closely with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and the pier's management team, the consensus is that the fire started near a machine in an amusement arcade at the landward end of the Victorian pier.







Thought to be started from an electrical fault, the fire began at around midday behind wood panelling in the arcade area of the Pier and quickly spread, engulfing the whole dome in flames.

Fire fighters worked quickly to evacuate the building, resulting in nobody being hurt or trapped on the Pier, allowing the fire fighters to get to work putting the fire out. It took over 80 firemen to tackle the fire at the privately owned premises with a fire service spokesman stating,

“Fire-fighters are using lifeboats to help tackle the fire from the sea and an aerial platform is being used as a water tower to prevent the fire from spreading on the shore side.”

It is believed that the pier did not have any fire protection or hydrants, making the operation difficult for fire crews to get water onto the site. Although this was the case, it is thought that some of the pier can be saved, which is good news as previous pier fires at Brighton and Weston have resulted in total devastation.

Crews remained dampening down the area until late last night, allowing the full extent of the damage to be seen. The metal shell was in full view to the public, proving just how fires can take hold in such a short space of time.

It is devastating news for the town, which has changed somewhat over the years, proving popular with holiday makers and film producers alike. Eastbourne has been home to the film set Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the Brit-flick Made in Dagenham, all filming scenes in the iconic South East location.



Stephen Penrice, known as Penny to his friends


STEPHEN PENRICE "PENNY" - Known as 'Penny' to his friends and work colleagues, Stephen died after a fall from the burnt out steel structure. There is a campaign in Eastbourne to rename the Blue Room to the 'Penny Arcade' once the structure has been rebuilt.




HOT TOPIC - Incredibly, fire fighters were on the scene in sufficient time to save the penny arcade - as you can see from this picture- but for some reason nobody is squirting water at the building. The best way to have tackled this fire was from the entrance from Grand Parade. A fire is a convenient way to dispose of a building that one could otherwise not gain planning consent to remove. In this case the penny arcade would be nowhere near so profitable as a the next proposed fairground rides.




A NICE CHEERY BLAZE - The timing of the fire was spot on if the intention of the/any arsonist was to be sure that water to put the blaze out would be hard to source. How the fire got this far is a mystery. If hoses had been deployed from the entrance to the pier, they could have been aimed at the base of the fire inside the building - a far more effective way of cooling a fire, such that the escalation above would most likely have been stemmed. Has anybody seen a report on the incident?



The burnt out shell of the penny arcade on Eastbourne Pier


THE AWARD FOR MOST FIRES - Goes to Eastbourne Pier. Also meaning that it is the least profitable, the correlation is statistically unmistakable. We are counting down the days until the next event. So should you, because at the moment the owner does not have the reserves to install decent fire fighting equipment. The penny arcade was one of the most prominent features of this pier for over 90 years. It is as much a part of our heritage as fish and chips. Meantime, there are hundreds of angry people venting spleen on Facebook.



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