Budapest George Ezra
2 July 2015, 13:20
Exhaustive enquiries into a fire which badly damaged Eastbourne Pier on 30 July last year have concluded with no clear picture of what caused the blaze.
Detectives trawled through more than 120 hours of closed circuit television (CCTV) footage - much of it recovered by scientists who rebuilt heat-damaged hard drives to obtain images - but discovered nothing of significance.
Additionally, phone data and witness interviews, combined with extensive information supplied by members of the public, all contributed to a detailed and thorough investigation.
Working closely with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and the pier's management team, the consensus is that the fire started near a machine in an amusement arcade at the landward end of the Victorian pier.
This was one of two seats of fire found by ESFRS and is believed to have been the one that led to the huge devastation to the pier. The second, in public toilets a short distance from the arcade, caused little damage but prompted firefighters to suspect human involvement.
This was one of several theories considered, others including an electrical fault or - despite the pier's "no smoking" policy - a discarded cigarette, but because the intensity of the fire destroyed the scene and recoverable evidence it has been impossible to reach a firm conclusion.
Detective Inspector Mark O'Brien, of Eastbourne CID, said: "No further lines of enquiry have emerged at this time and so the case will now be closed."
He added: "While it is disappointing to have no definite answer to what happened here last summer, it has been an exhaustive investigation.
"All those who have been involved, including ESFRS, pier management and police officers, are acknowledged for their detailed and thorough work.
"I am also grateful to the public for the information and material they have provided. I remain open minded about the case and if there is anyone with further information I'd ask them to make contact with Sussex Police."
This can be done by emailing email@example.com or phoning 101, quoting Operation Barsham.