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Margate: Huge fire breaks out on Westwood Industrial Estate

By KentOnline reporter

Residents living close to a huge blaze on an industrial estate near Margate have been told to keep their doors and windows closed for the next 24 hours.

Crews have been at the scene in Star Lane on the Westwood Industrial Estate, close to the Westwood Cross shopping centre, since about 6am.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but the former Cummins Power Generation building - which is full of flammable waste - has been alight for hours.

VIDEO: Reporter Sean Axtell's footage shows crews at the scene

Ten engines were called at about 6.20am, but the number increased to 14 as crews battled the fire.

At its height, 80 firefighters were battling the blaze, but the number of fire engines present has now reduced to seven.

The significant heat from the fire caused a partial collapse of the roof and a wall.

Residents in the Margate area are asked to keep their door and windows closed overnight and for the next 24 hours, due to the large smoke plume in the area.

The fire broke out this morning. Picture: Dave Larkins
The fire broke out this morning. Picture: Dave Larkins
Crews have been fighting the blaze for hours. Picture: Dave Larkins
Crews have been fighting the blaze for hours. Picture: Dave Larkins

Earlier today, it could be seen from as far away as Sandwich.

In a statement, a fire service spokesman said: "Seven fire engines and a height vehicle remain at the scene of a large fire on a Margate industrial estate.

"Crews are continuing to make good progress protecting a neighbouring unit, using ground monitors and positive pressure ventilation fans.

Since the emergency call, crews have worked to prevent the inferno spreading to neighbouring units using ground monitors and a height vehicle to rain water onto the fire.

Approximately 40% of the building is involved in fire and a drone was launched to provide incident commanders on the ground with an aerial view of the blaze, a spokesman added.

VIDEO: About 70 firefighters are battling a blaze near Margate. Footage: Emily Whittaker

The spokesman added: "People in the area are reminded to please keep doors and windows closed as a precaution, due to the large black smoke plume in the area, which is visible from approximately eight miles away.

"Please avoid the area if you can while firefighting operations are taking place."

The industrial estate has been taped off to keep the public out of harm's reach.

Star Lane and Nash Road, which leads to the estate, have been shut by police.

Fire crews say they will remain at the scene for some considerable time.

Crews have been supported on site by the rapid response team volunteers, who provide refreshments for KFRS staff.

The huge plume of smoke can be seen from miles away. Picture: David Gravener
The huge plume of smoke can be seen from miles away. Picture: David Gravener
Crews at the scene. Picture: Sean Axtell
Crews at the scene. Picture: Sean Axtell

Dave Larkins, who photographed the blaze early this morning, praised fire crews.

He said: "I was driving by and saw thick black smoke coming from the industrial estate, so I naturally stopped to see if anyone needed help.

"Thankfully Kent Fire and Rescue arrived within a couple of minutes and quickly got to work tackling the blaze.

"Firefighters rapidly applied water from all angles to do their best to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjacent buildings.

"It was an absolute furnace and I could feel the intense heat from where I was standing.

Fire crews have been working flat-out since about 6am
Fire crews have been working flat-out since about 6am
Ten fire engines were called. Picture: Simon Woodman
Ten fire engines were called. Picture: Simon Woodman

"Thankfully I think nobody was hurt. I feel sorry for the business owners and employees but hopefully they are fully insured and can rebuild.

"Massive well done to the firefighters who put their lives at risk for us all, it was amazing seeing them work so effectively and efficiently as well organised team.

"It was truly inspirational."

It is understood that Cummins vacated the site in 2014.

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