Fleetwood pier destroyed by unexplained fire

Ninety firefighters failed to contain blaze which gutted pier

Another of England's historic piers was destroyed by fire today in an unexplained blaze in the Lancashire resort of Fleetwood.

Fleetwood pier, which was built in 1910, was left completely gutted by the fire, officials said.

Smoke and flames were first spotted at 4.30am, and the fire service was contacted.

At the height of the blaze 10 fire engines and 90 firefighters were deployed. They eventually contained the fire but too late to prevent the pier being reduced to a smouldering ruin. No one is reported missing or hurt.

A spokesman for Lancashire fire and rescue said the fire began near a derelict pub and cafe, but it was too early to say if it had been started maliciously. Lancashire police said the fire was unexplained and an investigation would be launched.

Kyran Ronson, the officer in charge of the incident for Lancashire fire and rescue service, said: "It's a landmark for Fleetwood and it's a shame that has now gone.

"If you look at the crowds here it shows the significance of the building for the community. For the majority of people around here it's formed part of their lives."

The wind was offshore so homes on the promenade were not in danger.

The flames began at the front of the pier and worked their way along the structure, which had been out of use for more than a year. It was recently boarded up after rough sleepers sheltered there.

The Fleetwood blaze comes after a series of devastating fires at England's piers, notably the dramatic destruction of the Grand pier at Weston-super-Mare in July.

Tim Phillips, the chairman of the National Piers Society, said: "It is another sad day, though it is a very different situation from the pier at Weston.

"The owner has been having difficulty getting consent to what he wanted to do with the pier. Half the community wanted to see the pier developed and half didn't.

Eric Smallman, 43, who owns the Savoy hotel 75 metres from the pier, said it had been feared "something like this would happen".

He said: "We have had a bit of trouble recently with kids breaking into it and causing mischief.

"It hasn't been a nice pier to look at and needed something doing with it."

Before falling into disrepair the pier was known as "the jewel in Fleetwood's crown".


Matthew Weaver and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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