First photos of devastating aftermath of Old Town blaze

A view from the West Hill of the remains of the properties following the devastating fire at Marine Parade in Old Town-Photo by Paul Merison
A view from the West Hill of the remains of the properties following the devastating fire at Marine Parade in Old Town-Photo by Paul Merison

THESE are the first shocking pictures of the aftermath of the blaze that ripped through six homes in the Old Town in the early hours of Sunday morning.

In the cold light of day, the dramatic view from the West Hill cliffs shows just how fierce and devastating the fire was.

Flames ripped through the properties and quickly burned through the roof and interior of the premises.

George Street remained closed around the Marine Parade side today (MON) as firefighters continue to assess the structures and investigate the cause.

Scenes of Crime officers from Sussex Police were on site this morning but the blaze was not believed to be suspicious.

A 66-year-old woman is believed to be still fighting for her life in the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton today (MON).

It is thought she threw a bed sheet or mattress out of her window on the top floor before bravely attempting the 30 feet jump.

She has sustained serious leg injuries and remains in a critical condition.

Six homes were evacuated leaving 35 people needing temporary accommodation.

A number of businesses have also been affected.

Joy Gilham, 73, of Albion Lane, said: “I heard shouting and banging at 1am and looked out of the window onto George Street and saw ambulances and a lot of people standing around. I saw the flames on the roofs of the buildings from my bathroom window.

“The damage caused was quite intensive.

“I was one of the residents who were evacuated to the East Hastings Sea Angling Association but because all of this happened completely out of the blue it was very disorganised. I ended up staying overnight at my daughter’s house in Battle.

“I was completely petrified when I had to be evacuated as they (firefighters) told me this building could catch fire as well if the wind had changed direction. I kept seeing the fire coming closer to my house. The walls have laden plaster and the houses here date from the 1830s so my house could have gone up like a tinderbox.”

Harry Hunt, 21, of Albion Lane, said: “I was at a friend’s birthday party close by and we saw the smoke coming down the street. I saw the poor woman jump out of the window from one of the burning buildings. She fell down the alleyway and was carried away by firefighters. Seeing her jump was quite disturbing. It was all pretty dramatic what I saw. We were quite lucky that the wind was not blowing in such a way that the fire could have spread further.”

A message from Goldenhands Gift Shop on Facebook reads: “Goldenhands will be closed again today.

“We have been allowed access this morning to Goldenhands for a very quick look around, and we are delighted and amazed to be able to tell you all how extremely lucky and blessed we have been. Now that some time has passed since the fire was doused, the inside of the building no longer smells badly of smoke. A bit of a wash in a few places in the flat above should sort it out nicely. It’s such a relief. The outside back and side of the building will need some TLC but nothing major? We are unable to open today as they are still sorting out an unstable part of the building behind us, and the passage way is full of rubble and debri, but all being well we should be open as usual tomorrow. Thank you all so much for your support and kind words. Our hearts go out to the badly injured lady in Brighton hospital, ‘The Rebel Gallery’, ‘Hanooshka’s Coffee House’ and the owners and residents of Marine Parade who have lost not only their homes but in some cases their livelihoods. We also can not thank enough, all the emergency services and associated peoples who did such an amazing job of keeping people safe and containing all the damage to a relatively small area. “Well done and thanks to each and every one of you.”
Did you lose your home or business in the fire? If so please call our newsdesk on 01424 856760 or email: