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Two people have been arrested on suspicion of arson after a Victorian pier was severely damaged by fire, police have said.

The blaze, which was reported at around 1am on Tuesday, destroyed 95% of Hastings pier, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said.


Sussex Police said two males were detained and were being questioned about the cause of the fire on the pier, which has been closed since 2006.

Firefighters with eight fire engines were trying to extinguish the blaze, the fire service said. There were no reports of any injuries. Firefighters were also transported to the blaze by local RNLI lifeboats as they struggled to get the flames under control.

Campaigners in Hastings have been trying to raise money and support to see the pier refurbished with modern attractions. Designed by Eugenius Birch, it opened in 1872 and was originally 910ft long.

With the pier beset by financial problems, the council said it was prepared to buy it by compulsory purchase after a study this summer showed it could be made safe for £3 million. The pier was owned by Panamanian-registered company Ravenclaw.

Simon Rose, spokesman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: "It's still a major blaze. There's about 60 firefighters dealing with the blaze. At the moment about 95% of the structure has been destroyed. It's quite significant."

He added: "It's a very historic building and landmark for Hastings. The priority for the firefighters is to preserve as much of the structure as they can to see if something can be done with it in the future."

On a "Save Hastings Pier!" Facebook page, members reacted with shock to the blaze.

Robbie Clark wrote "it's so wrong!", while Martyn Reed, from Hastings, added "can't believe the pier's been burnt down!"