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Arsonists blamed for blaze at former cinema

PART of Chatham town centre was closed last night after a fire swept through a former cinema. More than 30 firefighters from Medway and Maidstone tackled the blaze at the former ABC picture house.

Police investigating the fire believe it may have been started by arsonists.

Fires were started in four parts of the cinema, which closed in December last year. The blaze destroyed the old projection room and smoke-damaged more than 30 other rooms.

The main screen room was just minutes from going up in flames when a crew arrived to control the blaze at 8.20pm.

The fire is thought to have been started by youths, seen by the firefighters inside the building shortly after they arrived to extinguish the fires and search for people.

The youngsters are thought to have escaped through a back door.

Six pumps, operated by 30 firefighters, took more than two hours to extinguish the fire and make the area safe.

Police are now investigating the cause of the fire. Anyone with information should call Medway Police on 01634 884252.

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