Arson suspected as second fire sweeps through Brighton pier

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The Independent Online

Police are investigating a second fire on Brighton's crumbling West Pier, which firefighters say was probably arson.

Police are investigating a second fire on Brighton's crumbling West Pier, which firefighters say was probably arson.

The fire broke out shortly after 2am yesterday in the partially collapsed ballroom. Although not as severe as the fire that gutted the pavilion at the end of the Grade I-listed pier on 28 March, showers of sparks were seen falling into the sea.

Danny Sherman, station officer for Roedean Fire Station, said: "There were several seats of fire inside the structure itself, which is very unusual. If I was a betting man, I would bet that this one has been started deliberately."

Hundreds of revellers returning from the city's nightclubs watched as a dozen firefighters tackled the flames. At the height of the fire one man in his 30s was arrested and later released without charge after climbing on to the pier.

Firefighters were called back to the pier during the day yesterday after flames were again seen coming from the pavilion. A Sussex Police spokesman said there had been reports of fireworks being let off near the pier. "We have a scenes of crime officer going to the pier, and a full health and safety assessment will also be made. We are not clear of a cause yet," he said.

A huge fire in March, believed to have been started deliberately,ripped through the pavilion, leaving nothing but the original cast-iron structure.