RESIDENTS had to be evacuated when a huge fire erupted in an industrial building.

Flames burst through the property in Drury Lane, St Leonards, at about 9pm on  Saturday.

Six fire engines were sent  to tackle the blaze at Drallim Industries, an engineering company.

Gas cylinders stored in the building exploded and residents were evacuated for safety.

They were directed to a refuge area set up for them to shelter in.

At about 11.45pm, other residents in the area were advised to close their windows and doors while the fire services continued to battle the fire.

No injuries were reported but the South East Coast Ambulance service was at the scene in case medical help was needed. 

A large aerial ladder from Brighton was called to help tackle the flames and a 200m cordon was put in place throughout the evening and the early hours of the morning.

Investigations into the cause are now under way.

A spokeswoman from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said firefighters from Hastings, The Ridge, Bexhill, Battle, Broad Oak, Pevensey and Brighton were all called to the blazing building.

She said: “Despite early reports via the fire alarm company and the fire service arriving on the scene within a matter of minutes, due to rapid fire spread and the building storing gas cylinders which exploded, firefighters had to withdraw to a safe distance and evacuate a number of adjacent residential properties.”

She said evacuated residents were supported by Hastings Borough Council which set up a temporary rest centre.

Crews remained at the scene overnight.

People were allowed to return to their properties in the early hours of yesterday.
But they were instructed to keep all doors and windows closed due to the residual smoke from the building.  

Resident Justine Davis said on Twitter that explosion from the fire “shook our building and our souls”.

Drallim managing director David Mooney said Millwood House, where the company was based, was “pretty much burnt-out”. 

He said: “There’s nothing left. It’s gone. 

“It’s a huge shock. I’m not sure what we’re going to do but we’ll do something.”

There will be meeting for company staff today to talk about what will happen next, Mr Mooney said. 

Andrew Gausden, business safety manager at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This fire demonstrates that despite early warning, fire can quickly spread and destroy your business.”