20.11.16 Fire fighters tackle seafront blaze in Bognor Regis


A "major" fire on Bognor Regis seafront has been brought under control.

Residents were evacuated to a leisure centre as crews faced "difficult conditions", said the service.

Fourteen fire engines were sent to tackle the blaze, which affected a row of buildings on The Esplanade, in the early hours of Sunday.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said some of the properties were derelict and the buildings were completely destroyed.

Emergency teams were at the scene throughout Sunday and inspections by fire fighters were due to continue throughout the night.

Sussex Police said the fire broke out at Beach Restaurant and affected derelict buildings next to it.

A police spokesman said a gas supply caught fire and had kept the flames going, but emphasised emergency teams were not dealing with a gas mains explosion.

About thirty residents were evacuated from flats close to the fire when crews were called just before 04:00.

Fifty fire fighters were involved in tackling the blaze at its height.

Lead officer Adrian Murphy said: "This incident has taken place in the midst of a major storm and it was difficult to stand when we arrived on the seafront.

"Our key priority now is to work with the displaced residents to get them safely home as soon as possible."

One person was treated for smoke inhalation but no other injuries were reported.

The Esplanade remained closed at the junctions with West Street and Lennox Street and the closure was likely to remain in place throughout the day and potentially into the week, police said.

The blaze is being investigated.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue are working in partnership with a number of agencies, including Arun District Council, and have support from Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service, West Sussex County Council's Resilience and Emergencies Team and their own Technical Rescue Unit.

Story collated by Liz Turnbull.

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