Firefighters at former Cummins site advise residents to keep windows and doors shut for next 24 hours

Photo KFRS

Fire crews remain at a blaze at the former Cummins/Rank Hilger unit, at the Rank Crystal site on Westwood Industrial Estate, 15 hours after it broke out.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service is advising residents to keep their doors and windows closed overnight and for the next 24 hours due to the smoke in the area.

Fire crews were called in at just before 6.20am to the blaze t the Westwood Industrial Site.

Firefighter Ian Thomson, who is the duty brigade manager at the scene, said the ‘intense’ fire could mean crews will stay at the scene ‘for days.’

He said the blaze has been fed because the unit is ‘packed from front to back with ‘flammable waste.’

Photo Tyrone Keen

He said: “There is cardboard, wood, pallets, all wrapped in plastic, and all on fire. That is going to take a long time to deal with.”

Fears that the site was a potential fire hazard due to the waste in the building were raised in a BBC report in January. At the time the Environment Agency said it was investigating.

Photo David Townsend

At the height of the fire there were 80 firefighters, 14 engines and specialist vehicles on the scene.

Photo Tyrone Keen

Since 4.30pm that has reduced to seven vehicles and 35 firefighters.  Crews are continuing to make good progress protecting a neighbouring unit, using ground monitors and positive pressure ventilation fans.

Photo Sophie Holland

Measures taken to make sure the crew do not tire out include rotating staff. A KFRS spokesperson said: “They do get tired, so it’s important they have regular breaks and keep hydrated, we also rotate crews around and move them around the county to provide the additional support needed.”

Photo John Horton

Residents have been to the site to give crews water and food.

Photo Stuart Young

The cause of the blaze is not yet known.

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