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Rochester shipyard fire: arson investigation after explosion

A fire which caused an explosion at a ship yard is being treated as arson, it has been confirmed. 

The explosion at Acorn Shipyard was felt for miles on Sunday after the fire erupted at the site at the corner of Gas House Road, Rochester, and Acorn Wharf Road at 10am.

An outbuilding was engulfed with flames and loud crackles and pops could be heard echoing along the river.

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Fire at the Acorn ship yard in Rochester
Fire at the Acorn ship yard in Rochester

Emergency services were called and a number of pumps from nearby stations attended, with an alert sent out to fire stations for more help.

Firefighters remained at the site for several hours.

Police have now launched an arson investigation. 

Manager of the business, Malcolm Fisher, said: "It is thought it might be linked to a spate of fires along the riverside."

The ship yard is back open today (Tuesday) after power was restored on site last night. 

One of the five workshops there was completely destroyed in the blaze. 

Mr Fisher, who has worked at the yard for 25 years, said: "There is a substantial amount of damage.

"I feel a bit gutted to be honest."

The premises were locked up and the site unoccupied at the time of the fire.

A spokesman for Kent Police said: "The fire is being treated as suspicious and enquiries are ongoing."

A spokeswoman for KFRS said on Sunday: "We were called at 10am to reports of an exploding cylinder."

Police sectioned off the area and various nearby footpaths.

Nearby residents were advised to keep windows closed and stay indoors as a precaution and the fire service told people not to approach incident or go to the scene to look.

Fire in Rochester, alongside the River Medway
Fire in Rochester, alongside the River Medway

But that did not stop a crowd of people who gathered to watch, as smoke billowed from the building.

At 11.15am the incident was brought under control and some of the crews left the scene, leaving two pumps to continue fighting the flames.

Fire crews cordon off the area
Fire crews cordon off the area

The fire was extinguished just before 3pm.

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