Essex

Man puts out Southend Pier fire by peeing on it

Thomas Watson Image copyright Thomas Watson
Image caption Thomas Watson was visiting Southend Pier with his partner and daughter on Friday

A man put out a fire on the world's longest pleasure pier by urinating on it.

Thomas Watson noticed a small fire on the deserted Southend Pier and took matters into his own hands by relieving himself over the flames.

The council thanked him for his "quick-thinking tinkling" but said it was confident its own sprinkler system would have worked, as The Sun reported.

Essex Fire Service confirmed it was called but no action was required.

Mr Watson, 22, from Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire, was visiting the 1.3 mile (2.1km) pier with his partner and daughter on Friday at about 19:30 BST, when he noticed smoke and small flames on the wooden planks.

The weather had turned and "we were literally the last people there", he told the BBC.

Image copyright Steve Daniels/Geograph
Image caption The 1.3 mile (2.1km) structure is the longest pleasure pier in the world

Mr Watson said the fire was "only small on top", but a lot of smoke was coming from underneath and he "thought it was all burning under there".

"I looked at it and the wood was proper charring away, like white with an orange glow.

"Using my initiative I decided to empty my bladder."

Although his partner had called the fire service, Mr Watson had tackled it by the time crews arrived.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A section of Southend Pier was gutted by fire in October 2005...
Image copyright Thomas Watson
Image caption ...And left slightly charred in July 2018

A Southend Borough Council spokesman said: "Whilst we have faith our sprinkler system would have soon sprung into action, we understand the visitor deployed his own sprinkler system to swiftly extinguish the miniature inferno."

He said the family could come back and visit the pier for free, but added: "[We] kindly ask that he keeps his trousers firmly secured on this occasion."

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Southend Pier

The pier has been a victim of disaster since it first opened in 1830.

  • 1959: A fire destroyed the pier pavilion at the shore end, and this was replaced by a bowling alley which opened in 1962
  • July 1976: Fire destroyed most of the 1908 pier head
  • June 1986: Irreparable damage caused to the boathouse when MV Kingsabbey sliced through the pier head
  • June 1995: Bowling alley and other buildings destroyed by fire
  • February 2012: Fishing boat hits section of the pier

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