Six people have been injured after a major fire broke out at a seafront hotel in Eastbourne.
The East Sussex Fire and Rescue service said it was called at 8:52am this morning after reports of a fire breaking out in the basement of the Claremont Hotel.
At 11:30am, 12 fire engines were on the scene, as well as officers and specialist appliances and vehicles. West Sussex Fire and Rescue and Sussex Police were also on hand to provide support.
Firefighters are said to have pumped sea water from the beach to help tackle the flames.
The South East Coast Ambulance Service said that two ambulances, two response vehicles and a Hazardous Area Response Team were sent to the scene at 9:03am.
There are reports that at least six patients are being treated for minor injuries. One has been taken to Eastbourne Hospital with reports of breathing difficulties.
Incident commander and assistant chief fire officer Mark Andrews said: “This is a very serious incident and the fire took hold very quickly. There is considerable smoke in the area and we are advising people to keep doors and windows closed.
“The swift actions of the hotel staff meant everyone got out of the hotel safely, and we thank them for their efforts.”
He later added: “The fire spread from the basement through to the upper floors. The wind also caused some additional challenges and we needed to take water from the sea.
“We will now work to ensure that the fire is completely put out. This will take several hours and so the roads in the area are likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues from other agencies who have helped us deal with this complex incident.”
The building is said to be “seriously” damaged, and will need inspection before a decision is made on the building’s future.
The cause of the fire is yet to be investigated.