Famous pier can be brought back to life again after blaze, vows MP

Firemen tackling the final flames of the fire at Eastbourne Pier
Firemen tackling the final flames of the fire at Eastbourne Pier

Hope has emerged that fire-hit Eastbourne Pier could reopen again next year as two-thirds of it was untouched by flames, the local MP said.

Up to 80 firefighters tackled the blaze on the 144-year-old, Grade II listed structure which left the dome-shaped arcade section a charred shell.

But as investigations continued into what caused the fire, Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd sounded a note of optimism about the privately-owned pier’s revival.

After talks with East Sussex’s chief fire officer, Mr Lloyd said two-thirds of it remained untouched by fire and the structure appeared “pretty sound”.

The Liberal Democrat MP has now called on the community to rally round the pier’s stricken traders amid fears that some had no insurance.

Speaking outside the fire-ravaged attraction, Mr Lloyd said: “There is real damage but I’m confident that it can be repaired.

“It’s still very much still standing, and I’m very hopeful and confident that it will be reopening next year and be back in business.”

The extent of the damage could not be compared to neighbouring piers in Brighton or Hastings, which both suffered more significant blazes in recent times, he said.

No-one was left trapped as the pier was evacuated around 3pm on Thursday and Sussex Police have said the fire is not believed to be suspicious.

Twenty firefighters were at the scene yesterday morning damping down and cutting away sections to prevent any reignition of the fire.

As firefighters later scaled down operations, East Sussex Fire and Rescue said the cause was “unexplained” and the investigation was due to take “a number of days”.

David Tutt, Eastbourne Borough Council’s leader, said he understood that the fire could have been started by an electrical fault.

“Our understanding is the fire appears to have started in wall panelling, which would lead you to believe it was electrical,” he said.