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Fire in Queen Street, Gravesend, destroys old pub

Building experts have met to assess the damage after a fire devastated an historic pub.

Queen Street remained closed after the blaze at the old New Inn in Gravesend, on the junction with Milton Road, yesterday afternoon and today at 1pm, Kent Highways said Milton Road – one of the main routes into town – would stay shut until 5pm on June 2.

The fire in Queen Street yesterday

Affected roads are Harmer Street, Milton Street, Ordnance Road, Edwin Street, Berkley Road, West Crescent Road and The Grove.

The road closure came after part of the listed building – one of the borough's oldest – collapsed into the street after the "massive" fire broke out.

New pictures taken this morning show the aftermath.

Fire crews were still at the scene this morning but as of 1.30pm operations had been completed. An eye witness said they had seen two fire engines today.

Nick Brown, Gravesham Borough Council’s Director (Environment), said work would continue today to decide what happens next.

He said: “We watched with dismay the fire that caused so much damage in the town centre yesterday and would like to thank Kent Fire and Rescue Service for their efforts to save the buildings involved.

The view from above the old New Inn in Queen Street, Gravesend
The view from above the old New Inn in Queen Street, Gravesend

“We had officers at the scene yesterday and are meeting on site again this morning with colleagues from building control to fully assess the extent of the damage to the old New Inn building and neighbouring properties.

“Given the building’s listed status, there are legal considerations that need to be followed in respect of any potential urgent works in the interests of health and safety or for the preservation of the building.

“We have been in contact with representatives of the owner since yesterday afternoon to ensure they are fully aware of what needs to happen now, and we will continue to provide them with advice and assistance in the coming months.”

New pictures taken this morning show the extent of the fire. The charred remains of the pub have been cordoned off.

The roof has completely gone and very little of the building itself remains. There has also been damage to the pharmacy next door with its roof almost gone.

Yesterday, Jack Kamenou, owner of the Reliance Fish Restaurant a few doors away in Queen Street, said: "It is massive. The whole roof has completely collapsed inwards. It is bad."

He believed the former pub, which then opened as a vape shop and was most recently New Amsterdam – the CBD Specialist, has been empty for a while.

A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: "We were called at 1.04pm to reports of a fire at a commercial premises in Queen Street, Gravesend.

"Nine fire engines and a height vehicle were sent to the scene. Crews wearing breathing apparatus worked to extinguish the flames.

"The cause is not yet known."

Part of it has collapsed
Part of it has collapsed

Officers from Kent Police have been assisting with traffic management.

Last night, people were asked to avoid the area and those living in roads including Queen Street, Milton Road and Parrock Street are still being asked to keep their windows and doors closed as a precaution.

The fire service added: "Operations have been scaled back and firefighting now reduced to turning over and damping down, due to the nature of the fire and the fumes and dust still coming up from the site."

Mr R Nasseri, who is the owner of the Universal Food Centre in Milton Road a few doors away from the old pub, said: "The fire pushed through to the other building. We had to leave.

"We have a lot of fresh meat, frozen meat and fruit and veg in there, and that will be lost.

There is damage to the pharmacy next door
There is damage to the pharmacy next door

"The building is insured by the landlord but not our products."

He believes he may have lost anything up to £150,000 of stock. "It's my whole life," he said.

Pender Pharmacy, whose building is next door to the pub, has also seen its building severely damaged and staff are temporarily fielding calls at Gravesend Medical Centre.

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