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Firefighters tackle blaze at former New Inn pub in Queen Street, Gravesend


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A former pub has collapsed into the street after a "massive" fire broke out.

Queen Street remains closed this morning after the blaze at the old New Inn in Gravesend, on the junction with Milton Road, yesterday afternoon.

The front of the building has collapsed into the street
The front of the building has collapsed into the street

Crews were still at the scene last night but operations had been scaled back.

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

"They are still there and all the road has been shut off. We have no customers."

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 have been sent to the scene. Crews wearing breathing apparatus are working to extinguish the flames.

"The cause is not yet known. Officers from Kent Police are in attendance to assist with traffic management."

The building has collapsed
The building has collapsed
The former New Inn pub in Gravesend from above. Picture: High Profile Aerial
The former New Inn pub in Gravesend from above. Picture: High Profile Aerial

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."

Mandy Yates was trying to get a bus to Darent Valley Hospital but had to get off after roads were closed.

She said: "I was here when there were flames coming out of the roof. The road was blocked with cars and buses.

"Nothing was going anywhere. It's devastating, it's such an old building.

Smoke was billowing out the roof. Picture: Mandy Yates
Smoke was billowing out the roof. Picture: Mandy Yates

"The fire has devoured the roof. It's a bit frightening, it's so sad."

Nigel Matton, who lives in St Andrew's Court in Queen Street, said: "I smelt smoke in my flat and heard sirens and the whole place was covered in smoke." He said he believed the building was more than 200 years old.

He said: "I looked out of the window and couldn't see anything other than smoke. It was billowing out of the roof."

His partner Mandy Loveridge said she smelt smoke and thought Nigel was putting out a cigarette in an ash tray.

She said: "Ten minutes later the whole flat was a smoky." She then saw the roof of the old pub come down.

The fire brought traffic to a standstill in Milton Road, Gravesend. Picture: Ash Dartnell
The fire brought traffic to a standstill in Milton Road, Gravesend. Picture: Ash Dartnell
The former New Inn pub in Gravesend from above. Picture: High Profile Aerial
The former New Inn pub in Gravesend from above. Picture: High Profile Aerial

Milton Road was closed from just after Edwin Street to the bus barrier at King Street.

Part of the old pub has collapsed and there is understood to be damage to other buildings.

The flames are out but firefighters were continuing to douse the building with water, and move tiles to check for other hotspots at around 3pm.

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 don't know if the electricity has been cut off. We have a lot of fresh meat, frozen meat and fruit and veg in there, and that will be lost.

Fire could be seen billowing over Gravesend after a fire in Queen Street, Gravesend
Fire could be seen billowing over Gravesend after a fire in Queen Street, Gravesend
The roof has been destroyed. Picture: Mandy Yates
The roof has been destroyed. Picture: Mandy Yates

"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.

As of 4pm, the incident had been reduced to seven fire engines and a height vehicle as crews make steady progress to extinguish flames and cut away any hotspots.

By 8.30pm, this had been scaled back to six engines and the fire service said it would likely be reduced further in the next couple of hours.

Queen Street will remain closed overnight whilst firefighters hold a watching brief to make sure the fire does not reignite and to keep the scene safe.

No casualties have been reported and the cause is yet to be determined by an investigation will be carried out.

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