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Fire on barge at Iron Wharf, Faversham

Firefighters have saved an old Thames sailing barge which burst into flames while moored in a creek.

Crews were called to Iron Wharf in Faversham after fire broke out on the 80ft barge Ironsides at 11.30am today.

Kent Fire and Rescue said 25 firefighters tackled the blaze with high pressure hoses, "fog spikes" and a specialist compressed-air foam system.

Two people were treated for the effects of breathing in smoke and given oxygen.

Thames sailing barge Ironsides. Picture: Richard Murr
Thames sailing barge Ironsides. Picture: Richard Murr

It is believed the blaze broke out in a confined compartment below decks during repair work which led to lagging catching fire.

Five fire crews, some wearing life-jackets and using breathing apparatus, took 40 minutes to bring the fire under control using their own water supply. It is not known how much damage the fire has caused.

Eyewitness Richard Foad was working next door.

He said: "I was on my boat when I heard somebody shout 'fire'. I looked out and saw smoke billowing out of the barge.

Ironsides moored at Faversham Creek. Picture: Richard Murr
Ironsides moored at Faversham Creek. Picture: Richard Murr

"I grabbed some buckets of water and ran over to help. The owner dialled 999 and called the fire brigade."

He said firefighters used water for the first 20 minutes until the specialist foam tender arrived. Neighbours reported seeing large plumes of smoke and said they could smell oil or diesel burning.

The fire brigade's inshore boat from Whitstable was also deployed for the safety of firefighters and Coastguards were at the scene.

The deck of Ironsides. Picture: Ian Read
The deck of Ironsides. Picture: Ian Read

Ironsides is a steel-hulled barge which was built in 1900. It is being refurbished in a floating dock by its owner Toby Lester, a shipwright and marine surveyor.

He has had welding work on the boat recently.

The barge returned to racing this year.

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