About 40 firefighters from Uckfield, Crowborough, Barcombe and Heathfield fought the fire in the High Street last night as it ripped through roof voids, according to East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
Ian Ritchie from Uckfield fire station told Uckfield News.com they were called to a ‘bin fire’ in Olives Yard but on arrival found it had spread to the roofs of several shops and offices. Additional fire appliances were immediately requested.
“The early collapse of the roofs prevented firefighters from entering the buildings in the early stages as the fire rapidly developed,” he said.
“An adjacent block of flats was evacuated as the fire threatened to spread further but this was prevented as the fire was brought under control with the aid of an aerial ladder platform and firefighting jets.
“Crews worked for several hours to contain the blaze and will remain at the scene damping down for some considerable time once the buildings are made safe.
“The cause of the fire is under investigation but firefighters would remind property occupiers of the importance of storing their refuse in a safe manner, away from their building and consider the use of lockable commercial bins.”
Update at 5.11pm: Here are more pictures from Leanne Miller showing activity continuing in the High Street during the afternoon. She said it looked as if efforts were being made to clear up the area. The building was being hosed with water and rubble was being taken away.
Leanne Miller took these pictures this morning showing the closed High Street and work beginning on boarding up shop windows.
Pictured below are some photographs from Ron Hill showing some of the damage to shops and offices.
The picture below was taken by Ben Gillam this morning.
Update at 12.37pm: Wealden Borough Commander for the East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Mark Matthews said: “Local crews from Uckfield were faced with a rapidly developing fire which had already taken hold and was affecting a number of shops and flats. The crews worked extremely hard to contain the fire to one block, which after some decisive action by crews was achieved.
“It is already clear that this fire will have a dramatic effect on the owners and employees of the businesses that have been destroyed, a consequence that is so easily overlooked by those not affected.
“Wealden fire resources will again be deployed within the High Street today to offer reassurance and critical fire safety advice to residents and business owners and employees.”
See pictures of the fire posted by Donna French on Facebook.
See pictures of the fire posted by Meridian.
Update at 8.37am Monday, September 3: The BBC reports firefighter Ian Ritchie saying “the fire had gone up into the eaves and straight into the roof” having started in bins. Here’s the BBC story.
Update at 8.24am: Police say Uckfield High Street is likely to remain closed until at least midday.
They say: “It is advised that the public avoid Uckfield and use the A22 Uckfield bypass. There is no access to the High Street from any direction and it is thought that the closures will be in place until at least midday.”
The fire began at around 11pm “at a business in the High Street” last night and spread to nearby buildings causing “substantial damage”.
Police and fire crews are at the scene and investigating the cause of the fire. No-one was injured.
Police said later that Neighbourhood Policing Team officers would remain in the area for the next few days speaking to residents and businesses about any concerns they may have.
Anyone with information about how the fire may have started is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting Operation Fullstop or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
There was a fire in Uckfield High Street last night with damage reported to shops opposite the Nat West bank and property above.
Here’s a story from Meridian with a picture showing flames on the floor and above the Sense charity shop and in the neighbouring building above the British Heart Foundation shop.
Here is a picture, taken by Steven Anderson, showing the extent of the damage to the roof:
The High Street remained closed at 7.50am according to @TravelNewsSouth on Twitter.
BBC Sussex has reported that firefighters are still dampening down hot spots at the scene of the fire. Here is a picture shown by them of a firefighter directing a hose to a window above the Sense charity shop.
Newick Park Hotel (@NewickParkHotel) tweeted this morning at 9.06am: “We were delighted to help reisdents of Uckfield High Street by accommodating them so they could avoid the fire near their homes.”
The Marketing Eye (@themarketingeye) tweeted: “We have had a major fire in our offices overnight. Everybody is OK. Please bear with us while we implement business recovery procedures.”