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Plumes of smoke visible for miles from blaze at Harvester restaurant

A dozen fire engines have responded to the fire in Littlehampton, West Sussex.

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Fire hoses

A dozen fire engines are tackling a blaze at a Harvester restaurant in West Sussex which has destroyed the building’s roof and produced large plumes of smoke visible for miles around.

A fire started in the kitchen at the restaurant chain outlet in Littlehampton on Thursday morning, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said.

Residents from the area witnessed “black smoke and bright orange flames” coming from the “iconic” restaurant.

Connor Tombs, 26, who lives half a mile from the Harvester, told the PA news agency: “I saw the smoke … it was just black smoke and bright orange flames, and I think I counted 22 fire engines.

“It’s an iconic restaurant here, it’s been here for donkey’s years.”

The healthcare assistant fears the Windmill Entertainment Centre adjoining the Harvester is at risk of being burned down, which he said was “sad” as his daughter attends the cinema for theatre school.

“It’s quite sad, really, because it’s probably the only major restaurant we have,” he said.

“Every time I’ve gone there it’s always been really busy.

“I think it’ll be even worse if the Windmill goes as well because my daughter does theatre school there so if that goes up then there will be no more of that.”

Mr Tombs, who runs the Littlehampton Facebook page, shared footage of the blackened frame of the building and the smoke billowing from the roof as orange flames ripped through the establishment.

A resident who lives on nearby Bayford Road told the PA news agency how he was “shocked” to see the building on fire, and was unable see the restaurant through the smoke.

Sam Turner, 36, said: “Me and my partner saw it from our house nearby and we rushed over.

“At first I couldn’t even see the building – it was just engulfed in black smoke.”

Mr Turner also raised concerns over the Windmill Entertainment Centre, but was reassured by the fire service that it had prevented the flames from spreading.

The smoke could be viewed for miles around the area while firefighters tackled the blaze.

Road closures are in place in the area surrounding Coastguard Road as crews deal with the incident and residents have been advised to keep their windows and doors closed.

A spokesperson for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “At 8.51am we were called to a fire at a restaurant in Coastguard Road, Littlehampton.

“Upon arrival firefighters were met with a fire in the kitchen, which has since spread to the roof.

“We currently have 12 fire engines, two aerial ladder platforms and two water carriers attending the scene, with firefighters working hard to bring the fire under control.

“Due to the large smoke plume, we would ask all residents to avoid the area, including the seafront, and to keep their doors and windows closed. All roads surrounding Coastguard Road have been closed.

“There are no injuries and everyone has been accounted for.”

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service area manager Gary Ball said in a video shared on social media that crews have worked to contain the fire to protect nearby buildings including the Windmill Entertainment Centre.

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