Uckfield fire – three arrests for ‘arson with intent to endanger lives’

3pm  BREAKING NEWS

Three teenagers have been arrested by police and are in custody on suspicion of arson following the fire in Uckfield High Street.

A man aged 18 and two 17-year-old boys, all from Uckfield, are awaiting questioning after being arrested for arson with intent to endanger lives.

District commander, Chief Inspector Dick Coates, thanked the public for their help and described the arrests as “great news”.

CI Coates has been working today with the team investigating the devastating fire.

Sussex Police superintendent for crime and operations in East Sussex, Trevor Botting, said it was “great work” by the team.

Buildings still in danger

*Wealden District Council has said this afternoon the fire damaged buildings are still “structurally compromised” and will require further stabilisation “over the coming week” to allow for the re-opening of both carriageways through the High Street.

Temporary traffic lights remain in place to control single-lane working past the damaged buuildings.

The council is in discussions with the owners to ensure the “long-term attractiveness and viability of the High Street”.

Contractors are completing the installation of netting to the side roof to allow full access to Olives Yard, which the council said was vital for businesses behind the High Street.

“We have spoken to business owners to reassure them we are doing everything we can to enable them to continue to access their premises,” the council said in a statement.

Below: A photograph of the roof damage supplied by the district council.

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Swindells to open again on Thursday

Update at 4.35pm, Tuesday, September 4:

Uckfield chartered accountants Swindells who lost part of their offices in the High Street fire on Sunday night should be open again for business on Thursday.

Managing partner Mr Peter Gale praised Ian Ritchie and his team of firefighters from Uckfield fire station for saving more of their buildings from the flames.

“We were very lucky that our fire door held but Ian was responsible for protecting us at the back and I am very grateful to him and his team.”

Mr Gale said they could have opened for business earlier but they had been unable to access Olives Yard because of the extent of the damage to other buildings.

Mr Gale said he received a call from an alarm company just before 11pm on Sunday saying the Swindells alarm had gone off and the police had been alerted.

By the time he arrived in town there was ‘pandemonium’ in the High Street. Barriers were up and there were a number of fire engines already in place fighting the blaze.

“I could see it was in our building above the Sense charity shop,” said Mr Gale.

Some of Swindells staff have now been moved to the firm’s offices at Seaford.

Access to emails should be available again from tonight and telephone calls have been switched to Seaford and then re-routed to mobile phones.

Mr Gale added: “We are feeling very upbeat and, while we won’t be back to normal for some time, we will be opening our premises again on Thursday.”

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