Demolition equipment arrives at Hastings Pier

image captionEngineers began assessing the demolition work from a cherry picker on Monday morning

Demolition machinery has begun arriving at Hastings Pier nearly four weeks after the structure was gutted by fire.

The blaze, which began in the early hours of 5 October, took four days to put out and destroyed 95% of the upper part of the East Sussex pier.

Engineers are using a cherry picker positioned on the beach to assess the demolition work, which will not get under way before Wednesday.

Hastings Borough Council is carrying out the work under emergency powers.

'Very dangerous'

The council has been unable to contact the pier's owner, Panamanian-registered Ravenclaw Investments.

Council spokesman Kevin Boorman said the structure would not be completely demolished, but in its current state was "very dangerous indeed".

"I have been with the engineers this morning and you can see from the underneath where it could go at any time," he said.

"Certainly, I wouldn't want to walk on it and neither would the engineers."

Dangerous parts of the structure will be removed over the next six to eight weeks, once the assessment has been completed.

Making good

"Engineers will remove the dangerous bits and after they have done that they can do a more detailed assessment of the rest of the structure," said Mr Boorman.

"Then we can sit down and take a considered view as to how much it is going to cost to make it good."

Earlier safety work concentrated on debris falling from the structure.

Hastings Pier was closed to the public in 2006 because of fears it had become unsafe.

Earlier this year, Hastings Borough Council agreed to buy it with a compulsory purchase order (CPO) and hand it to the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust, which wanted to develop the attraction.

CPO procedures are now under way, and the trust has launched an appeal to pay for work to strengthen the structure.

Two men, aged 18 and 19 from St Leonards, arrested on suspicion of arson on the day of the fire, have been bailed until Tuesday.

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