Two large fires have broken out in Brighton’s North Laine and at Hove Engineerium, with smoke billowing over the North Laine towards the beach and visible for miles around.
Reports on social media suggested a flat in the Argus Lofts in Robert Street is ablaze.
Incident commander Chris Baker, from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said that the fire started on the roof decking. The cause was not yet known but an investigation would take place.
He said: “We were called at 1736 to reports of a fire on the roof above the Bathstore.
“On arrival there was a large quantity of smoke. The decking was alight.
“At the height of the incident there were six fire engines, one aerial ladder platform and the command support unit.”
Two fire engines from Preston Circus and the aerial ladder platform were sent along with fire engines from Roedean, Barcombe and Seaford.
Mr Baker said: “Cutting away is currently in progress – cutting away hot spots and damping down – and we’re now about to start the investigation.”
No one was injured.
One of the people who called 999 was Jessica Vine. She said: “We are at The Eagle and saw the smoke when the fire first started.
“At first it seemed it might be a bit of smoke but when it started going black my friend called 999 immediately.
“The fire service arrived very quickly. Police and ambulance are here but I haven’t seen much else.”
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And meanwhile, another fire has broken out at the Hove engineerium, spreading to the chimney.
Councillor Robert Nemeth took this picture of the fire, which he speculated might be due to a mobile phone mast there. However, Luke Burstow took this picture of huts below ablaze, saying this was where the fire started.
Four fire engines from Hove are currently tackling that fire. A spokesman for Sussex Police said the fire service is attending and officers had closed the surrounding roads to allow them to tackle the blaze.
Crews were called shortly after 5.30pm, with firefighters from Shoreham and Worthing joining colleagues from Hove. The aerial ladder platform from Bexhill was also sent.
Group manager Matt Elder said: “We were called to quite a severe fire in a wooden outbuilding used to store tools. The museum is under renovation.
“Two crews from Hove were called initially and on attendance they dealt with a separate fire in the immediate vicinity in the Waitrose loading yard.
“Both fires are under investigation and at this stage we’re treating them as suspicious.
“We used breathing apparatus. Crews were sent in to deal with the fire in the outbuilding.
“They prevented the fire spreading to the main museum building.
“They identified a separate secured storage and information at the time indicated there were flammable gas cylinders inside, creating an unacceptable level of risk to the firefighters’ safety.
“So we withdrew and put remote unmanned monitors from two directions on to the fire until we could establish the nature of the cylinders.
“The cylinders were cooled to the point that it was safe for us to extinguish the rest of the fire and check the main building for unseen fire spread.
“The owners and police attended and we handed over to them for recovery.
“Because the fire was so sever at ground floor level, the fire tracked up the cables to the antenna which is why the chimney looked as though it was on fire.”
Electricians have isolated those cables, he said, and the owners are working with Vodafone to make the cables safe.
These two blazes take the number of large fires in the city to four today, with a man taken to hospital after a fire in Western Street, and four fire engines called to a fire above a Co-Op in Western Road in Brighton.
Reports of another fire shortly before 6pm turned out to be a false alarm.
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