TWO teenage boys arrested on suspicion of torching Alexandra Yacht Club have been bailed.
Police are still investigating what caused the yacht club in Clifton Terrace to burn to the ground on Sunday morning.
The 130-year-old wooden structure took 30 fire fighters two hours to extinguish.
They were called at about 11.45pm on Saturday and the blaze was put out by 1.45am. Crews remained at the site throughout Sunday checking for hot spots.
Police arrested two boys aged 16 and 17 in Westcliff at about 3am on Sunday after they were stopped by officers.
They were arrested on suspicion of arson. They were today released on police bail until September 12 pending further enquiries.
A lone chimney is all that remains after the immense fire reduced it to ash.
Incident commander and station officer Steve Parker said: "The fire started in the iconic Alexandra Yacht Club on Southend seafront just before midnight on Saturday night. The building was derelict and was situated on the side of the cliff on stilts.
"A total of 30 fire fighters tackled the blaze into the early hours of this morning and the aerial ladder platform was used to pour water at height onto the burning structure. The building has been completely destroyed by the fire."
The Echo understands police officers had made plans to evacuate Royal Terrace in the event of the fire spreading from the yacht club.
Julie Bagot, 46, of Alexandra Road, had been walking home at about 11.45pm when she saw the enormous flames rising from the club.
She said: "I'd been to the off license and was walking along when I saw the trees alight and at first I thought it was the lift that was on fire from an electrical fault or something.
"Then I moved down from the cliff stairs and saw the club - you wouldn't believe how much it was alight.
"There were people stopping their cars in the middle of the road (Western Esplanade) because it was so big - I've never seen a fire like that before."
Steve Valentine, 28, of Hamlet Court Road, added: "It just kept getting bigger and bigger then they (the police) said they were worried it was going to explode."
The majority of the flames had been extinguished by about 1.45am, with a large cloud of smoke billowing out of the charred remains of the club house over the seafront, as firefighters continued to damp down the site.
Emergency gas and electrical engineers arrived about an hour later to check the site was safe.
The yacht club is the fifth oldest in the country and the ninth oldest in the world, but surveyors have now condemned the building.
It was closed due to subsidence in November, but in April it was decided it would be demolished.
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