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An investigation into what started a large fire overnight is underway after it spread and badly damaged shops along Uckfield High Street.
Firefighters have been battling through the night after a fire broke out at four shops in Uckfield High Street.
Surrounding roads were closed while crews tackled the blaze.
Uckfield firefighters were called to a ‘bin fire’ in Olives Yard, off the High Street, last night (Sunday 2nd Sept) at 11pm but on arrival found that the fire had already spread to the roofs of several shops and offices.
Additional fire appliances were immediately requested and at its height forty firefighters from Uckfield, Crowborough, Barcombe, Lewes and Heathfield tackled the blaze along with the Aerial Ladder Platform from Preston Circus. Crews fought to contain the fire as it ripped through the roof voids.
Watch Commander Ian Ritchie said:
“The early collapse of the roofs prevented firefighters from entering the buildings in the early stages, as the fire rapidly developed. 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, seven firefighting jets and one- in- seven- foam. 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.”
Police and fire crews are currently at the scene and are investigating the cause of the fire, which is under investigation. No-one was injured.
Wealden Borough Commander, 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."
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service 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.
Roads in Uckfield are currently closed.
Sussex Police have released the following statement:
The High Street is currently closed to all traffic from the junction of Bell Lane in the south to Church Street in the North.
London Road is closed at the Budletts roundabout at the junction of the A26/A272 to southbound traffic.
A further closure is in place at the junction of Coopers Green Road and London Road.
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 closures have been put in place following a fire at a business in the High Street at around 11pm last night (Sunday 2 September) which spread to nearby buildings causing substantial damage.
Police and fire crews are currently at the scene and are investigating the cause of the fire. No-one was injured.
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 555 111.