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Two decades on: Remembering the devastating fire that destroyed Brighton’s west pier

On this day in 2003, the iconic West Pier in Brighton, UK, was destroyed by a devastating fire. The pier, which had been a popular attraction for over a century, had already fallen into disrepair and was closed to the public. However, the fire that broke out on the morning of 28th March caused irreparable damage, destroying most of the structure and leaving only the shell remaining.

The fire was first reported at around 8.40 am, and within a short time, it had turned into a raging inferno, with flames leaping up to thirty feet high. Firefighters from all over the city rushed to the scene, but due to the dangerous condition of the middle section of the pier, they were unable to control the fire.

The cause of the fire has never been established, and the investigation into the incident proved inconclusive. However, two months later, on 11th May 2003, the middle section of the pier was set on fire again under mysterious circumstances. The incident further deepened the mystery surrounding the cause of the initial fire, as investigators struggled to find any leads.

Speaking about the arson investigations, a spokesperson for the Sussex Police said that despite thorough inquiries, both investigations were closed undetected.

The destruction of the West Pier was a significant loss for Brighton’s heritage, and efforts were made to salvage what remained of the structure. In 2004, the remaining metal framework was stabilized, and in 2010, the i360 observation tower was built near the pier’s location. Despite the new addition, the remains of the West Pier serve as a poignant reminder of the city’s history and the tragic events of that fateful day in March 2003.

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