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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 October 2005, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Pier pictures before fire needed
The buildings on the pier have collapsed into the sea

Investigators are appealing for pictures of attractions on the world's longest pleasure pier taken before a destructive fire last Sunday night.

The pier deck, a rail station, a pub, an amusement arcade and several shops were destroyed and fell into the sea.

Now, investigators are painstakingly going through remaining evidence in a bid to discover how the blaze started.

Essex Fire and Rescue believe pictures of the shops and pub before the fire could help and are asking for copies.

A spokesman said this will help investigators piece together what happened and hopefully identify how the fire started and spread.

The initial fire investigation has taken place and Essex Fire and Rescue say they still cannot rule out the possibility that it was a deliberate act.

Further investigation will take place over the next week when the pier structure has been secured and made safe.

Viewing area

Assistant district officer Martin Powell, leading the investigation, said: "We are working closely with the police, Home Office forensic scientists and independent experts.

"We need to gather more information before we can establish the cause of the fire and as soon as this becomes available and we can conclude our investigation we will make a public announcement."

Once the investigation is complete the council believes it can start work on rebuilding the pier.

A bridge has already been installed so that crews can reach the lifeboat station in an emergency at sea.

A Southend Borough Council spokesman said the temporary bridge would also allow its surveyors to assess the full extent of the damage.

There are also plans to create a viewing area to allow the public to see the damage and watch repair work.

It has not yet been established how much the repairs will cost or how long the work will take.

Council officers will meet pier traders this week to discuss how it can help them with relocation.


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