UPDATE: Uckfield arson call for information

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UCKFIELD is still recovering from the impact of the devastating High Street fire.

The High Street remains closed as firecrews ensure the damaged buildings are in a safe condition and flames do not re-ignite.

Detective Sergeant Lee Floyd, of East Sussex CID, said: “We believe that this fire was started deliberately and would appeal for anyone with information about who may have started it to contact police.

“Thankfully no-one was injured during the fire but it has caused a lot of damage to the shops close to where it was started.”

Neighbourhood Policing Team officers will remain in the area for the next few days speaking to residents and businesses about any concerns or information they may have.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting Operation Fullstop or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

A Wealden District Council spokesman said some 25 people were evacuated from surrounding properties and moved to the Bell Walk Social Club as a temporary measure.

The council set up an emergency rest centre at Uckfield Civic Centre. Overnight accommodation was provided for 12 residents who where unable to return to their homes.

Wealden’s building control surveyors are currently supervising the demolition of fire damaged structures.

Road closures remain in place around the High Street and traffic diversions are in operation as work is carried out to the fire damaged buildings.

Wealden hopes to be able to close the rest centre later on today once residents have been able to either return home or found suitable alternative accommodation.

Wealden Borough Commander for East Sussex Fire and Rescue, Mark Matthews, said: “Local crews from Uckfield were faced with a rapidly developing fire which had already taken hold and was affecting a number of shops and flats.

“The crews worked extremely hard to contain the fire to one block, which after some decisive action by crews was achieved.

“It is already clear that this fire will have a dramatic effect on the owners and employees of the businesses that have been destroyed, a consequence that is so easily overlooked by those not affected. Wealden fire resources will again be deployed within the High Street today to offer reassurance and critical fire safety advice to residents and business owners and employees.”

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service would remind property occupiers of the importance of storing their refuse in a safe manner, away from their building and consider the use of lockable commercial bins.