Published: 16:10, 15 September 2020
| Updated: 12:52, 16 September 2020
Firefighters called to a fire in an industrial estate were been met by a huge wall of flames and smoke - and there are fears that asbestos could be involved.
A casualty has been taken to hospital and a massive plume of smoke has been rising from the Cobbs Wood estate in Ashford since 3.20pm.
At its height, 15 fire engines, two height vehicles and a bulk water carrier were on the scene trying to get the blaze under control.
One man has been taken to the William Harvey Hospital suffering from burns and smoke inhalation.
There are fears over asbestos fumes from the blaze, which started in a tyre store but spread to a nearby warehouse building.
A Kent Fire and Rescue spokesperson said: “Small amounts of asbestos may be present and we are working with the Environment Agency to reduce any potential impacts.
"As with any fire of this size, we are asking people living nearby to close windows and doors due to the smoke coming from the site.”
At 8.20pm fire crews said steady progress was being made and the fire had been surrounded, but they expected to be at the scene for some time.
A fire service spokeswoman said: "Kent Fire and Rescue Service has been called to a fire at a warehouse in Cobbs Wood Industrial Estate, Ashford.
"Fifteen fire engines, a height vehicle and a bulk water carrier have been sent to the scene.
"Due to a large of amount smoke coming from the incident, those living or working in the local area are asked to close their windows and doors."
An ambulance spokesman said: "Ambulances and the Hazardous Area Response Team attended the fire and treated one man for burns and smoke inhalation, before taking him to a local hospital.
"The HART team remain on site to assist the fire department."
Nearby residents have reported their clothes being covered in black, oily spots due to the smoke and falling ash.
Some have also found their children to be covered in a similar solution after playing on slides in their gardens.
Smoke has reportedly been seen as far away as Tenterden and even Romney Marsh.
Ashford resident Martin Darby said: "I came out of Iceland about four o'clock and the whole sky was black.
"People thought it was going to rain and I said no, it's smoke!
"Everybody in the Arlington area has been told to close their windows but it's going the other way, towards town.
"It's going to go on all night, I think, the whole lot is alight, and tyres will just burn and burn."
An Ashford Borough Council spokesman said: "We have had to evacuate the Biffa site at Cobbs Wood due to a fire at the premises next door.
"Kent Fire and Rescue are on the scene however the fire may impact bin collections today and tomorrow.
"We will update on areas that will be impacted by this as and when we get the information.
"We appreciate the patience of our residents in these circumstances."
Bus company Stagecoach tweeted: "Due to the ongoing incident on Cobbs Wood Estate, buses and drivers have been displaced and as a result some services may be subject to last-minute cancellations."
It is understood that Southeastern train services have not been affected.
To make matters worse, there was also a crash in the area.
Two cars collided in Brookfield Road, near Matalan, taking up an additional fire engine.
It is not known if anyone was hurt. Police have been contacted for a comment.
This is the fourth major fire in Kent in the space of two days.
In the early afternoon yesterday, a blaze broke out at a wildlife park near Canterbury.
The fire at Wildwood, which was started by a spark from a log burner , caused huge damage to the park.
Later on in the evening, a Crayford warehouse was devastated by a fire.
Then earlier today smoke was seen hanging over a fire at Chatham Football Club.