Published: 09:44, 17 June 2021
| Updated: 09:07, 18 June 2021
The owner of a popular pub destroyed by fire says he's "lost everything".
Alex Brooks was speaking after a blaze ripped through the Green Man in Hodsoll Street near New Ash Green early today.
Video of the pub this morning
At the height of the incident, five fire engines, a height vehicle and a bulk water carrier were present.
Mr Brooks said: "I got the phone call about 3.40am from a neighbour and managed to get down here around 4am to find it all ablaze.
"I've lost everything – a laptop with all my business details and some family portraits going back 100 or so years.
"We've all busted a gut to get back up and running with everything that's happened this year and now this."
The 33-year-old said the past 12 months had been a struggle with the pandemic and problems finding staff and supplies because of Brexit.
The dad-of-two took over the pub in 2017 with his partner Steph and says they spent £25,000 to get it Covid compliant.
"It just seems to be one thing after the other," he said. "The roof round the back – we'd just had that fixed."
This morning, as fire crews battled the blaze, it is understood water from a neighbour's swimming pool was used.
As of 11am, a fire engine and a crew from the technical rescue unit remained at the scene
They are checking for remaining hot spots and assessing damage.
Fire service volunteers are also in attendance to provide support to affected residents.
Drone footage shows the extent of the damage at the pub. Credit: UKNIP
Neighbour Gary Stickings said the pub was at the heart of the local community.
"We go there twice a week, Wednesday and Friday crew supporting it all through Covid as much as we can but I don't know what is going to happen," said the 58-year-old.
"The village fete is meant to be next week. Just a big big shame."
Fire investigators say they have not yet determined the exact cause of the blaze but have said it is believed to have been started accidentally.
Reporting from the scene, Sean Delaney said the building had been totally gutted by the fire with the roof destroyed.
Members of the public have speculated the pub was hit by lightning, but this has not been confirmed at this stage
Machinery – brought in to deal with the damage – is currently pulling guttering away from the building.
No casualties have been reported and the cause is not yet known.
A fundraiser set up for the pub has raised more than £3000 in less than 24 hours.
KMTV report on the devastating fire