Worthing shop fire: ‘All of a sudden, I heard a massive explosion’
The owner of a Worthing antiques shop has recalled the moment the property was set on fire while he slept.
A blaze broke out at Odd Lot Antiques and Collectables, in Brighton Road, in the early hours of Sunday (November 28).
Police officers believe the fire, in a store building at the rear of the shop, was started deliberately. Click here to read more
Shop owner Simon Cole was one of two people taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation and said there were six people inside the property at the time of the fire.
“We were in bed. All of a sudden, I heard a massive explosion,” Simon said.
“I looked out and saw fire billowing across the whole rear of the building, then I heard another explosion.
“We were just running around frantically with buckets, chucking them out the window, trying to put the fire out. It was so intense.”
Simon said the flames were almost immediately up to 30ft high.
He added: “I called the fire brigade who arrived very quickly and, thank God, we were saved. There has been extensive damage to our property and the adjoining one.”
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service said it received multiple calls shortly before 5am, adding that four people were rescued from the blaze.
Simon said the crews put out the fire within 20 minutes but the early efforts by the occupants of the property saved it from further damage.
“We didn’t leave until the fire service ordered us out,” he said. “If we hadn’t put it out to the extent we did, the whole property would have come down.”
Another resident, Dagsy Olsson, said he was left ‘traumatised’ by the incident.
He said: “Flames were coming through the building and could have burned us to death. It was pretty bad.
“The building is so old. It could have just gone up. We are lucky to get away with our lives.
“Simon’s daughter was here with her boyfriend earlier in the evening but thankfully had left. Lucky it enough it happened at 4am. It could have been completely different.”
Dagsy and Simon said two people were allegedly seen ‘running away from the scene of the crime’.
The fire is being treated as deliberate and is currently under active investigation.
Police said forensic experts were liaising with fire service investigators, house-to-house enquiries had been made and enquiries continue to locate any CCTV footage.
A van parked outside the Brighton Road property was also believed to have been damaged before the fire and this forms part of the investigation, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting serial 206 of November 28.