Published: 18:54, 23 July 2019
| Updated: 20:01, 23 July 2019
Seven fire engines have been sent to Army Ranges at Lydd after reports of an explosion.
Daniel Knapp said: "There is a big fire at Lydd. It looks like the Army camp."
Another eye-witness, Johnny Cotter, said: "We saw three or four explosions with flames shooting into the sky from our home in Sandgate as we watched the line of smoke rise from what looked like four or five different areas.
Watch footage of the blaze and the huge smoke plume
"Looked a bit more than just an undergrowth fire."
He added at 6.30pm: "Looking through my binoculars now and there are still four separate plumes of smoke.
"They are much less dense than an hour ago but look to be quite far apart in a line.
"Difficult to get a perspective though from over here."
Crews from Kent Fire and Rescue Service have been on the scene since just before 5pm.
A spokesman said: "We are at a large undergrowth fire on the Lydd Ranges near Galloways Road and Jury's Gap Road.
"Seven fire engines have been sent."
He added: "Firefighters are working hard to limit the spread of the fire which is around five hectares - about the size of five football pitches.
"The blaze is creating a large amount of smoke which is drifting towards Camber but heading out to sea.
"The cause of the fire isn't known at this stage."
A large bulk water carrier has also been sent.
Lydd Ranges have been used for military training for more than 150 years and is part of the Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Because the range is used for live firing, access is sometimes restricted. Red flags are flown during these times and access is prohibited along the foreshore and Galloways Road.
Red lights also show at restricted times if there is poor weather.
The danger area extends out to sea. Mariners sailing to and from Rye Harbour must pass south of the Stephenson Shoal to avoid it.
Firing occurs most days.
There is a 2ft narrow gauge railway on the range which can carry personnel and equipment.
More by this authorJohn Nurden