The superstore that melted just days before Christmas

The fire at Sainsbury's in Chichester in 1993
The fire at Sainsbury's in Chichester in 1993
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It was 20 years ago today that supermarket giant Sainsbury was coming to terms with the loss of its flagship Chichester store.

The Westhampnett Road branch, just off the A27, was engulfed in an inferno which raged until the early hours after breaking out at 2.45pm.

Scriptwriters could not have written a more horrifying plot for a disaster movie.

Eight days before Christmas and the supermarket was crowded with shoppers.

Suddenly fire broke out among packaging in the warehouse. There was panic for a few moments, but then order was restored and more than 1,000 staff and shoppers were evacuated safely.

It was a miracle no-one was injured or killed. It could so easily have been carnage among the cans and bottles.

When the fire took hold it spread like a bush blaze. With people out and at a safe distance, the fire crews could only look on.

Sainsbury’s didn’t just burn, it melted.