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Snodland: firefighters tackle large fire at Holborough Lakes flats

By KentOnline reporter
More than 100 firefighters have been dealing with a massive blaze at a block of flats in Snodland.
 
They were called to the three-storey building which contains 22 flats at Lambe Close, Manley Boulevard, Holborough Lakes, just before 7am.
 
At least 15 fire engines were sent to the scene along with two height vehicles and a water management unit.
 
Scroll down for video and audio
 
Firefighters were called to flats at Holborough Lakes

Firefighters were called to flats at Holborough Lakes

 
10 fire engines were at the scene of a large fire at Holborough Lakes. Picture Andrew Holt

10 fire engines were at the scene of a large fire at Holborough Lakes. Picture Andrew Holt

 
Smoke could be seen across the River Medway. Pic Keith Thompson

Smoke could be seen across the River Medway. Pic: Keith Thompson

 
 
 
 
 
The emergency services, local authorities, The Red Cross and Berkeley Homes – which owns the site – have been approached for comment.
 
 
The charred remains of the complex of 22 flats. Picture John Westhrop

The charred remains of the complex of 22 flats. Picture: John Westhrop

 
South East Coast Ambulance Service has confirmed it sent multiple ambulances to the scene and treated two women for unrelated medical conditions.
 
A woman was suffering from chest pains and was taken to Maidstone Hospital while a second woman was treated and discharged at the scene.
 
A paramedic in a car has also been sent to the rest centre as a precaution.
 
A British Red Cross team was sent to help residents

A British Red Cross team was sent to help residents

Simon Lewis, head of Crisis Response at the British Red Cross, said: “British Red Cross emergency response teams have been called out to help support those affected by the fire at Pollyfield Close.

"We currently have five volunteers assisting at a local rest centre, helping look after residents who have been evacuated. All our volunteers are trained to give practical and emotional support. We will continue to monitor the response throughout the day and stand ready to assist however we are needed.”

He added it had invoked its Tesco agreement, which allows it to be able to pick up essentials, such as food, toiletries, tea and coffee, from local Tesco stores.

A Kent Police spokesman said: "We were called at 7.04am following reports of a fire in a block of flats in Polyfield Close, Snodland. Kent Fire and Rescue are at the scene working to extinguish the fire and SECAMB are also at the scene. Officers are at the scene assisting with road closures at Manley Boulevard."

Crews from across the county are tackling the fire with main jets, compressed air foam and water from hydrants at the top end estate and the fire service said everyone has now been accounted for.
 
 
 
Just before 10.30am Kent Fire and Rescue said crews were making 'good progress' in dealing with the major fire and the priority was to stop it spreading to nearby homes. It had also sent up its drone to assist staff on the ground.
 
The A228 was also closed at the junction to the entrance of the estate and crews are likely to be on scene for some time.
 
It's not known yet what started the fire. Pic @HallingWeather

It's not known yet what started the fire. Pic @HallingWeather

 
More than 100 firefighters are tackling the flames. Pic @HRPLew

More than 100 firefighters are tackling the flames. Pic @HRPLew

 
Aerial photo of the fire at Holborough Lakes. Pic Lewis Steeper – FalconUAV

Aerial photo of the fire at Holborough Lakes. Pic Lewis Steeper – FalconUAV

 
Resident David Marsh said he was unable to leave the complex, and posted footage of the drama.
 
He added that he asked firefighters if everyone had been accounted for, but crews were unable to confirm details.
 
 

Aerial photo of the fire at Holborough Lakes. Picture courtesy of Mike Mahoney.

Aerial photo of the fire at Holborough Lakes. Picture courtesy of Mike Mahoney.

Tracey Crouch, MP, has spent the last three hours visiting the blaze site. 

She said: “The emergency services have been absolutely superb.  The response of Kent Fire and Rescue and their partner agencies has been impressive.
 
“Berkeley Homes, who own the site, and their agents RMG, have been on hand from the beginning helping the residents and the response has been really well managed.
 
“I met a couple of residents who have been directly affected and of course it’s heart-breaking for them. Most have already left to join family or friends and eight or nine families have been put up in local hotels.”
 
Miss Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said: “I’ve been shown round the area by the leading fire crews and obviously the damage to the buidings is extensive, but fortunately there has been no loss of life.
 
“I’ve spoken to many other residents from the estate, and there has been no criticism at all of the response by the emergency services. Everyone has done a wonderful job.
 
“Clearly though there will have to be an investigation to find the cause of he blaze and we shall need to be patient while that is carried out.”
 
 
 
Andrew Holt questioned whether timber-framed buildings were a good idea and posted dramatic footage of the fire from his Facebook account.
 
 
 
 
Up to 100 firefighters rushed to the scene at the height of the major blaze. Many are expected to remain for most of Saturday. Picture John Westhrop

Up to 100 firefighters rushed to the scene at the height of the major blaze. Many are expected to remain for most of Saturday. Picture: John Westhrop

 
Keith Thompson lives on Church Street, Burham and could see the flames across the River Medway. He said: "There were horrendous plumes of smoke going right across the valley from Snodland towards the West Malling area.
 
"It was quite a stunning site from where I was."
 
Others suggested a resident began knocking on doors to warn people a fire was spreading.
 
 
 
 
 
It's not known yet how the fire started.
 
Holborough Lakes is one of Berkeley's biggest UK projects and is built on a former chalk quarry with the first homes completed in 2009. Two-bedroom flats start at £320,000 rising to £629,000 for a four-bedroom house.  Homes are set around several freshwater lakes and landscaping.
 
The developer was also behind the nearby Leybourne Lakes development and both sites are designed in New England style architecture featuring painted wooden walls. It was the first of Britain's large housebuilders to use Super E timber frame technology, an energy efficient system to make heating homes easier and which includes air filtration technology.
 
The estate has a primary school - Valley Invicta Holborough Lakes which opened in September 2015 to ease overcrowding on nearby sites.
 
At the end of last year, residents complained bitterly new double yellow lines had sprung upon several roads without them being notified. Several public meetings were held with the developer and Tonbridge and Malling council over the problem.
 
In December a man was arrested on suspicion of growing cannabis after a flat fire in Poynder Drive. Flames were seen coming from a second-floor bedroom and fire crews were able to bring it under control.
 

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