Hartlepool Longscar blaze 'suspected arson' say police

Police have launched an investigation into the suspected arson attack on a Hartlepool building.

Cleveland Police are appealing for witnesses following the blaze at the Longscar Centre in Seaton Carew.

Demolition work at the Longscar Centre following the blaze.

Demolition work at the Longscar Centre following the blaze.

Officers say they are investigating the 'suspected arson' at the centre after fire broke out at 7.45pm on Tuesday night.

No one was injured in the blaze, but up to 60 firefighters were called to tackle the flames.

The seafront building was severely damaged during the blaze which was watched by hundreds of onlookers.

The following day a crew of firefighters returned to the scene to damp down any potential hot spots.

The scene of the blaze at Seaton. Photo by John David McDade.

The scene of the blaze at Seaton. Photo by John David McDade.

At the height of the blaze six jets, 12 breathing apparatus and two jets from the hydraulic platforms were used to put out the fire.

Hundreds of people turned out to watch, with police putting up a cordon and closing the road to traffic.

Flames were seen burning through the roof, with smoke billowing 60ft in the air and out to sea as scores of firefighters tackled the blaze.

Demolition work to part of the fire-damaged Longscar Centre in Seaton Carew has been carried out after initial surveys indicated it was unsafe.

The Longscar building is well ablaze. Photo by John David McDade.

The Longscar building is well ablaze. Photo by John David McDade.

A JCB digger, believed to be acting on behalf of the owners, moved on to the site yesterday afternoon.

It pulled down sections of the building worst affected by Tuesday night’s blaze including at the front. The whole site was earlier cordoned off after preliminary surveys by fire and council chiefs indicated it was structurally unsafe and that parts of it were at risk of collapse.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said the site is the responsibility of the private landowner who is also responsible for any demolition work that is carried out.

The fire started in the right hand corner of the building and quickly spread into the roof and along it.

The aftermath of the fire.

The aftermath of the fire.

Eight fire appliances and two aerial platforms were needed and crews spent 12 hours on the scene.

The building, which was previously a pub and video games arcade, has been vacant since 2009. In 2016, the council, which is carrying out regeneration work along The Front, failed in its attempt to force the owners to sell them the building through compulsory purchase powers after a public hearing.

A spokesman for Cleveland police said officers are appealing for any witnesses who were around at the time of the fire to contact DC Jodi Mallon from Cleveland Police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org quoting event number 081728.

*Drone footage by Jay Petch.

Aerial photographs of the fire-hit building. Photos by Jay Petch.

Aerial photographs of the fire-hit building. Photos by Jay Petch.