Staff praised for evacuating 100 wedding guests during pier fire

A Worthing Pier manager has praised staff for getting a wedding party of around 100 guests to safety during a fire last night (June 13).

Phil Duckett, managing director of the pier’s southern pavilion, said the fire ‘could have been a lot worse’ as around 100 wedding guests were enjoying a disco at the moment smoke was seen ‘bellowing’ out from under the disabled toilet door.

He said a discarded cigarette must have been thrown down outside and blown into the wooden panelling around the disabled toilet at the side of the pavilion.

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He said it must have been smouldering for about a hour before the smoke was seen seeping out from under the closed door and he called the fire brigade and started the evacuation.

“The fire brigade had to take some of the panels away to reach it,” he said. “It have obviously been smouldering for a while. It was only when bellows of smoke from the disabled toilet were seen, that we knew.

“It could have been a lot worse. If it wasn’t for the professionalism of the emergency services and the speedy reaction of the staff.”

The wedding party had just watched the bride and groom’s first dance and guests were enjoying a disco, when the fire alarm was set off.

He said all the staff in the pavilion have been trained for quick evacuations and they escorted members of the party to shore within three minutes of the alarm sounding.

Staff then called several local hotels to ask if they could take the party.

Eventually a member of staff found space for the party to continue at The Burlington Hotel on the seafront and they organised for Casa Ciro Restaurant to provide dinner.

Mr Duckett said the bride and groom were understandable upset by the disturbance to their party but he said they visited him this morning and were feeling better.

Six fire engines and two lifeboats were called to the fire at about 8.30pm. The fire was out by 10pm.

The cause of the fire has been confirmed as accidental.

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