The fire quickly spread across the seafront, turning the sky behind the Clock Tower red.

PICTURES: Skegness seafront blaze remembered 15 years on

A huge fire that turned the sky red as it ripped through arcades and clubs along Skegness seafront is being remembered 15 years on.

More than 120 firefighters fought to contain the blaze, which started at a complex run by Bells Amusements and spread to the clubs owned by the Bola family.

In just a few hours an amusement arcade, bars, clubs, restaurants and the old Parade Hotel were all destroyed in the incident, leaving a haunting landscape of rubble and twisted metal reminiscent of wartime bomb site.

Luckily, in spite of the devastation and the speed the fire spread, no-one died.

But for those who were there – the memory still lives on.

The day of the ‘Great Fire of Skegness’ was August 17, 2007 and already the coast had suffered a disastrous season, with July one of the wettest on record and major floods taking place across the county.

Former freelance photographer remembers being awoken by a call from the media asking for pictures at 11.30pm.

"When I got there my hair stood on end,” he recalled. “I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

"What was really frightening was how quickly the fire spread.

"I had been in one of the Bola’s clubs just a couple of days before taking pictures for a promotion and one of the girls who worked there recognised me.

"She was in shock and crying – she had been forced to leave her keys and possessions inside the club because they had been evacuated so quickly.

"People who had been evacuated from the clubs stood outside watching in disbelief – still holding their glasses of beer in their hands.

"I remember the next day seeing a row of glasses along the seafront where people had left them when eventually they went home."

Heat from the blaze was so intense there were fears the fire would spread even further.

"Firefighters were hosing the roof of the Embassy Centre opposite for fear it would spread there and I remember it buckling under the weight of the water,” said Mr Byford.

"I remember wondering if the show would be able to go on – Jim Davison and Sooty were due to perform the next day.

“Fire and Rescue were sourcing water from anywhere they could – the swimming pools were emptied and the pond in Tower Gardens.

"I call it the Great Fire of Skegness because even 15 years on people still remember it.”

Now, the seafront parade has been redeveloped. Bell Leisure built Lucky Strike, which has just been voted the eighth best arcade in the UK in research by bestcasinosites.net, with 274 machine.

Taj Bola announced a £5 million redevelopment in 2013 and opened the Hive Leisure Complex, which has just seen the launch of the UK’s only ice bar.

“Over the years Skegness has survived floods, war and depression,” said Mr Byford. “The fire is an important part of our history but we are a strong nation – whatever is thrown at us we always come back.”

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