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Squatters run off after being rescued from fire in Ship Street, Brighton
Six people who need decontaminating after being rescued from a fire in an asbestos-ridden former post office have disappeared.
The six were rescued from the fire at the Old Post Office in Ship Street, Brighton, on Saturday at 1.10pm and immediately ran off.
Their friend, who would not give The Argus his name, confirmed that they were squatters who had been living in the former post office, which is set to become a branch of restaurant TGI Friday.
The 35-year-old, originally from Liverpool but currently homeless in Brighton, said: “About 13 people have been squatting in the building.
“I received a phone call from a friend saying it was on fire and to come downand get my stuff.
“But the police won’t let me in.
“The people who were squatting there have run off – they aren’t coming back.”
Firefighters from Preston Circus, Brighton, Hove, Lewes, Newhaven, Shoreham and Roedean had to undergo decontamination after leaving the building, fire commander Adrian Brown confirmed.
He said not only did the building have asbestos in, there was also “needles and human excrement”.
Mr Brown, who led the rescue, said crews initially feared arson, but it subsequently emerged that this was not the case.
He said: “The building is large inside and there are lots of different rooms.
“Five people were led to safety but one person did not want to leave and had to be encouraged out.
“We used hose reels, breathing apparatus and an aerial ladder.
“There was a lot of smoke.”
He confirmed that the people in the building were squatters – and added that they disappeared after being rescued.
Sussex Police also confirmed that they attended the fire, which closed North Street for about 30 minutes and Ship Street to vehicles for about three hours.
An East Sussex Fire and Rescue statement said: “A fire investigation has revealed that the fire was accidental.
“We were called to reports of smoke coming out of the windows of the building.
“Six people were rescued.
“Crews left the scene just before 5pm.”
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