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Diners in Whitstable harbour evacuated as fire crews battle smoke

Diners in Whitstable were evacuated as fire crews responded to reports of a freezer that had caught fire.

Three fire vehicles were called to the scene in the harbour just before 4pm yesterday, where they dealt with smoke issuing from a building.

Linda Wills, 67, was among customers who were asked to immediately evacuate the Crab and Winkle restaurant, when staff realised they could smell smoke and raised the alarm.

Fire crews responded to the incident. Picture: Linda Wills
Fire crews responded to the incident. Picture: Linda Wills

She said: "We'd just finished and had paid then a lady came through saying 'everyone must evacuate - there's smoke but we don't know where it's coming from'."

Linda and husband Kenneth, from Rochester, had brought her elderly mum, aunt and uncle for a day trip to Whitstable.

"It was a bit scary for us, because my mum who is wheelchair-bound had to come down in the chair lift," she said.

"We could see the smoke coming out just next door, and we could smell it as we left.

"The staff evacuated us excellently.

"One fire engine had already arrived. We had to move along away from the building, then another fire engine turned up, and a red car.

"The smoke just kept coming out of that one place and firemen went in with their breathing gear on. We left at about 5.15pm and they were still all at work."

Ben Cadge, a chef at the Crab and Winkle, said the fire is thought to have started at a cockle fishing business next door.

He said: "We could smell smoke coming through so we got everyone out, but it seems the fire brigade got here in time."

The Crab and Winkle is open today as usual.

A fire service spokesman said the blaze was out on arrival, and crews used two high pressure fans to clear the building of smoke. There were no reported injuries.

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