Hoo latest: Residents evacuated as fire rages at Kent industrial unit

Video from Peter Cross

Around 200 people have been evacuated from their homes after a huge fire tore through an industrial building in Kent.

Onlookers reported a mushroom cloud and a series of explosions as firefighters continued to battle the blaze in Hoo near Rochester.

Local people look on as the fire rages Credit: PA

A former Royal Engineer who lives nearby said it reminded him of gas explosions he saw while working with the Army.

Firefighters were called to the scene in Vicarage Lane at 4.30am on Friday, where flames and a plume of black smoke could be seen.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service posted this drone footage above the blaze

Members of the public were being asked to avoid the area.

Video on social media shows huge flames from the blaze lighting up the night sky, while people posting online talked of an explosion.

Video from Scott Bradley and Martin Ball.

The fire has continued to burn and at one point on Friday morning a billowing mushroom cloud of smoke was seen rising up into the sky.

Joe Discipline, who lives nearby, told the PA news agency: “Around 4/4.30am a huge explosion shook the house and windows. I jumped out of bed to see the sky was orange.

The blaze could be seen from miles around Credit: PA

“There was then a second explosion, just as big, and that’s when I started to record.”

As the blaze burned, a huge plume of thick black smoke billowed hundreds of feet into the air, prompting the fire service to tell nearby members of the public to close windows and doors.

Gas cylinders were involved in the blaze.

No casualties have yet been reported, the fire service said.

Another man, who lives on St Mary’s Island said:

“I was thinking, is it going to be like Beirut? At the end of the day, you see the mushroom cloud, then there might have been a secondary explosion which was even bigger, so I was just a little bit worried.

“It was eventful to wake up to, that’s for sure.”

Ten fire engines were sent to the scene as firefighters continued to tackle the blaze.

A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: “Kent Fire and Rescue Service is at the scene of an industrial building fire on Vicarage Lane in Hoo, near Rochester.

“Ten fire engines and a height vehicle are in attendance, and crews are working to tackle the blaze.

“Firefighters are advising the public to avoid the area while the emergency services deal with the incident.”