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Gas Leak Led To Eastbourne Hotel Fire Destruction

The Claremont Hotel, Eastbourne, After Fire Damage (Photo: © The Oast House Archive / Creative Commons)

Firefighters said a "small gas leak" inside the Claremont Hotel led to the fire that destroyed much of the Grade-II* listed building last November.

The news was released today (September 16) as East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service concluded its investigation into the cause of the flames.

Since the incident on 22 November 2019, the service said its fire investigation team has worked to determine the cause, gathering and examining a range of evidence and witness statements.

Its final conclusion was that a small gas leak from the internal gas main ignited.

The vertical internal gas main was boxed-in with other utilities against the side of a lift shaft which provided for rapid vertical fire spread to the upper floors of the building.

As witnesses noticed over the subsequent months, damage caused by the fire and later by storms meant that the Grade II* listed building had to be demolished. 

At the height of the blaze, the firefighting operation involved a total of 12 fire engines and other specialist vehicles attending the scene at Grand Parade.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Sussex Police, Eastbourne Borough Council, SECamb, Highways, utility companies and local building control assisted.

Gas Safety

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it released the findings as it supported Gas Safety Week (14th-20th September).

The service offered safety advice regarding gas appliances:

  • Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix and service your appliances. You can find and check an engineer at GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  • Check both sides of your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Make sure they are qualified for the work you need doing. You can find this information on the back of the card.
  • Have all your gas appliances regularly serviced and safety checked every year. If you rent your home ask for a copy of the landlord’s current Gas Safety Record.
  • Know the six signs of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness. Unsafe gas appliances can put you at risk of CO poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions.
  • Check gas appliances for warning signs that they are not working properly e.g. lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks or stains on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.
  • Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in your home.
  • Keep vents and chimneys clear. Make sure you don't block any vents, as they are vital to ensure gas appliances burn properly, and chimneys need to be cleaned and checked regularly. 
  • Use gas appliances only for their intended purpose. Don't be tempted to use them for something they weren't meant for (e.g using a gas cooker to heat a room).
  • Know the emergency procedure. If you smell gas or suspect immediate danger, make sure you familiarise yourself with the emergency procedure and contact the relevant number for your UK region.
  • Spread the word. Share vital gas safety information with friends, family and neighbours to make sure your community stays safe.  

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