Firefighters have thanked the community for their donations and support after a serious fire which damaged flats and businesses in Worthing.
Ten fire engines and two aerial ladder platforms were called to the blaze, in Rectory Road, shortly after 6.30pm on bank holiday Monday. They were sent from fire stations in Worthing, Shoreham, Arundel, Littlehampton, Steyning, East Preston and Horsham.
Crews worked through the night to extinguish the blaze. Rectory Road remained closed until Tuesday afternoon.
All residents safely escaped the building and were initially evacuated to the Thomas A Becket pub.
The fire meant that a number of families were displaced from their homes and there were a number of others whose properties were also affected. Initial reports said ten flats and five businesses were affected, but today the fire service confirmed eight flats and five shops had been damaged.
Following the blaze, members of the public came forward with offers of support, clothes and essential items.
These donations have now been taken to the Worthing Churches Homeless Projects, where they can be accessed by the residents affected.
An investigation into the cause of the fire has been launched, although Worthing fire station manager Roy Barraclough said on Tuesday that it was not believed to be suspicious.
Mr Barraclough said today: “The community has come together in an amazing way, offering support, clothes, essential items and even money, to those affected by the fire.
“Staff at the Thomas A Becket pub were also been brilliant, providing us with a safe place to evacuate everyone to that night.
“It has been especially humbling to hear so much fantastic support from the community for the emergency services.”
Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, said: “Fires can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and it has been incredible to see so many people come forward to do what they can to help.
“I also want to thank our amazing firefighters who worked tirelessly put out this fire and to keep everyone safe.”