FIRE UPDATE: Electrical fault to blame

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A LIGHT fitting was the cause of the fire at the County Times offices tonight.

Fire Inspection Officer Tim Eady said at the scene: “I am confident at this stage that it was an electrical fire, started in the ceiling light fitting.

Firefighters during the blaze

Firefighters during the blaze

“The fire debris from the light fitting has fallen down onto the floor and onto the chair below, igniting the chair.

“This then spread to the computer on the desk next to it.

“It was a very localised fire, and a very quick fire, measuring two to three square metres.

“There is nothing left of the chair now, and the fact that it’s stuck to the floor suggests that this was the hottest point.

“Most of the damage throughout the building was caused by smoke.”

He added: “Most people seem to dismiss smoke damage and think it’s less serious. In this case it was toxic because of the plastic, which meant it would have been liberating cyanide and other deadly fumes which are incredibly harmful.”

Two journalists were in the production centre when the fire started, but acted correctly, swiftly leaving the premises whilst alerting West Sussex Fire and Rescue.

Fire doors prevented the blaze from spreading further throughout the historic building in Market Square, Horsham.

Officer Eady added: “It just goes to show what a difference closed fire doors can make. The damage would have spread further if it wasn’t for them.

“If the fire was left for another 30 minutes there would have definitely been a lot more of it and the roof could have even caught alight, and then we would have been in trouble.”

A number of rooms in the County Times offices have been damaged, including the main entrance and stairs, main editorial corridor, and photographic department.