At 3.48pm on Wednesday 30 June both Eastbourne lifeboats were requested to attend the evacuation of Eastbourne pier when fire was discovered behind panelling at the rear of the amusement hall.
Satisfied that all members of the public had been safely led away, attention was shifted to assisting fire-fighters in their operation to tackle the flames which rapidly threatened to spread out of control.
Eastbourne’s inshore lifeboat (ILB) collected fire pumps and fire-fighters from the beach and ferried them to Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat (ALB) where they were set up at the seaward end of the pier in a desperate bid to save the majority of the structure.
Lifeboats from the flank stations of Hastings and Newhaven were later tasked to assist in the operation that saved most of the seaward end of the pier.
Bob Jeffery, Deputy Launch Authority from the RNLI’s Eastbourne lifeboat station, said: ‘The fire started when the tide was relatively high which meant the lifeboats could enable fire-fighters to tackle the blaze at close quarters, but on a falling tide it was critical that the fire was brought under control before the lifeboats were forced to retire due to lack of water in which to manoeuvre.’
Fire-fighters were still on scene next morning damping down the remains of what was the ballroom in days gone by. Much praise has been heaped on the volunteer RNLI crewmen who have been credited with helping to save much of Eastbourne’s historic Victorian structure.
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