Blaze rips through historic Brighton hotel as strong winds hinder firefighters

Blaze rips through historic Brighton hotel as strong winds hinder firefighters

Smoke has been billowing about Brighton since Saturday night

Sam Montgomery

By Sam Montgomery

Published: 16/07/2023

- 16:16

Flames gut 200-year-old Royal Albion Hotel overlooking Brighton Pier

Weather conditions on the south coast have complicated emergency services’ response to a fire at the 219-bedroom Royal Albion Hotel.

Flames engulfed parts of the Grade II listed building on Saturday evening and have continued to burn despite firefighters’ best efforts.

Situated at the heart of Brighton’s seaside overlooking the pier, the blaze prompted a widespread evacuation.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) have confirmed that no-one was injured in the fire.

Emergency services have said they will have to tear down the hotel's facade


ESFRS group commander, George O'Reilly, told The Argus that the facade of the building will be demolished to allow firefighters to put out the burning embers of the building.

O'Reilly said: "Because of the nature and structure of the building, when a fire takes hold it is nearly impossible to put out.

"We have prevented it from spreading from the old wing to the new building but now need to demolish the front.

"The building is partially collapsed so it is unsafe to send crews in to put out the fire.

Fires continue to smoulder


"We are working with the local authority and plan to demolish the front as soon as possible, hopefully this evening.

"One of the dangers is you don't know which way it will collapse."

The Old Steine and Kings Road were shut, while locals and tourists were told to stay away to avoid the ‘significant’ smoke made worse by the wind.

In the immediate response to the fire, Brighton and Hove City Council opened an emergency rest centre to provide information and support for people evacuated from their homes.

Road closures remain in place in parts of the city


Council leader Bella Sankey said on Saturday night: "These are very sad scenes in our city this evening.

"On behalf of the city council I want to give my thanks to the emergency services for attending the fire at the historic Royal Albion Hotel in the heart of our city.

"We urge everyone to continue following advice from emergency services and to please keep away from the area."


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Parts of the building have been reduced to a shell of outer walls


On Sunday morning, the fire service announced that it was “scaling back operations” from the site of the hotel.

At the height of the operation, there were 15 fire engines at the scene with firefighters lending a hand from Preston Circus, Newhaven, Hove, Lewes, Eastbourne, and Pevensey.

Flames are said to have spread to multiple rooms from a third floor room, with the wind exacerbating the problem.

The hotel, which is run by Britannia Hotels, has previously suffered a fire in November 1998.

An ESFRS spokesperson said yesterday: “Four breathing apparatus wearers are using two main jets and an Ariel Ladder Platform to extinguish the fire. The Old Steine and part of Kings Road have been closed while the incident is ongoing.”

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