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Fire in Nelson Road, Northfleet

By KentOnline reporter

A massive fire broke out at a former sports ground in Northfleet.

At least 35 firefighters spent at least three hours battling the blaze, which engulfed a building at the disused Fleet Leisure and Sports Club.

Police confirmed residents from around 50 nearby homes had to be evacuated, with one woman treated for smoke inhalation. 

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The building on fire in Nelson Road. Picture Alex Deakin

The building on fire in Nelson Road. Picture: Alex Deakin

Kent Fire and Rescue Service said six fire engines tackled the blaze, along with the height vehicle and a bulk water carrier.

A spokesman said the building was completely alight when firefighters were called at 6.30pm.

A close-up of the flames. Picture Alex Deakin

A close-up of the flames. Picture: Alex Deakin

Police also arrived and cordoned off the area.

A force spokesman earlier said: "We are currently assisting Kent Fire and Rescue Service crews. 

"Road closures are currently in place while crews tackle the fire.

"Residents are advised to keep doors and windows closed due to smoke in the area." 

People reported seeing huge plumes of black smoke as far away as Greenhithe and Bluewater, four miles away.

Firefighters are using three main jets to tackle the blaze, which was brought under control at around 9.30pm.

Thick black smoke fills the sky. Picture Alex Deakin

Thick black smoke fills the sky. Picture: Alex Deakin

The flames engulfed the building. Picture Taylor Roswell

The flames engulfed the building. Picture: Taylor Roswell

Black plumes of smoke could be seen for miles. Picture Taylor Roswell

Black plumes of smoke could be seen for miles. Picture: Taylor Roswell

A spokesman said crews would remain at the scene damping down.

Police said its Kent Resilience Team were assisting those who had been evacuated. 

The sports ground closed in 2013 when the company leasing it from Gravesham council went into administration and plans for Ebbsfleet United to buy it fell through.

There was a brief glimmer of hope in early 2015 when the then Labour council promised to plough £2.5 million into getting it running again.

But the cost of renovation was underestimated and the plans were scrapped.

Firefighters are tackling the blaze from several angles. Picture Lucy Hickmott

Firefighters are tackling the blaze from several angles. Picture: Lucy Hickmott

The ground had been used for local sports for 81 years before its sudden closure four years ago.

Smoke in a nearby street. Picture Alex Deakin

Smoke in a nearby street. Picture: Alex Deakin

Last month, councillors agreed to advertise for a new long-term contract for a company to run the lease on the ground.

The cause of the fire has not yet been specified.

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