Manager of shop affected by Worthing fire praises ‘absolutely outstanding’ response

Images taken with a drone show a view from above
Images taken with a drone show a view from above

The manager of a business affected by last night’s fire in Worthing has praised the emergency services and the community for their ‘absolutely outstanding’ response.

Ten fire engines were called to the block of flats above shops in Rectory Road, opposite the Thomas A Beckett pub, at 6.38pm yesterday evening.

After a four-hour battle with the blaze, crews got it under control – but 25 per cent of the roof had been destroyed by fire along with 25 per cent of the second floor, a fire service spokesman said.

Chris Pitt, deputy manager of A1 Quality Homecare, first heard about the fire when one of their carers called him.

The 23-year-old from Durrington got down to the scene by 6.45pm, and saw the flames blazing out of the building’s roof, with ‘smoke everywhere’ and ‘crowds and crowds of people’.

He said: “The scene was cornered off when I arrived, and the emergency services did an absolutely outstanding job. They were brilliant.”

The main concern was about the people living in the flats – but he understood that all residents got out and no-one was injured.

He said: “It could have got really out of hand but the fire service did a great job.”

The community rallied around the fire service, with bystanders buying the firefighters bottles of water, Chris said.

He stayed at the scene until 11pm, when the fire had been put out. He saw other business owners who had shops in the same block, including the owner of Nikki’s Cafe.

Chris managed to take a look at the back of the building; and said it was ‘absolutely demolished’. Click here to see aerial photographs of the fire.

The fire investigation unit remain at the scene today, with that section of Rectory Road closed.

A1 Quality Homecare will remain closed until the fire service say it is safe to return to the building, Chris said, but it would be business as usual for them, with their staff working from home instead.

He said: “It was amazing to see how everyone joined up together and helped each other out.

“I can’t praise the emergency services enough, they were absolutely fantastic, and everybody was so supportive.”