Sean Boscott, of Bedford Row, Worthing, noticed a bin alight in neighbouring Marine Place last Wednesday – one of several similar incidents in recent months.
He believes ongoing problems with businesses dumping rubbish and failing to secure wheelie bins, which he says should be locked, are encouraging people to set fires.
He said: “Between the pier and the town centre, with all the rubbish, burnt bins and glass, it looks like war-torn Bosnia.
“With all the rubbish, which probably contains fat, oil, aerosols and other things from the businesses, it is quite a dangerous mix.”
Mr Boscott was alerted to the fire at around 11.50pm, when he saw smoke and light from the fire “flashing” off the buildings.
He rushed outside with his neighbour Anthony Bishop , and called the fire brigade, who arrived quickly on the scene.
He said: “If we had not noticed, the whole building would have gone up.”
Mr Bishop added: “That fire was really big and if someone had opened that back door, they would have come out into an inferno and got it full in the face.
“It has to be the fifth fire in the last two years at least.”
For the full story, see the Worthing Herald, out Thursday, June 6.