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Fire guts historic pub

PUBLISHED: 14:10 21 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:23 23 August 2010

BLAZE: Suspicious fire at the 17th century Black Lion

BLAZE: Suspicious fire at the 17th century Black Lion

FIREFIGHTERS spent more than five hours tackling a suspicious blaze which gutted a picturesque 17th village pub. Crews were called to a fire at the Black Lion Pub, Red Street, Southfleet, at 1.30am on Tuesday as the fire ripped through the wooden buildin

FIREFIGHTERS spent more than five hours tackling a suspicious blaze which gutted a picturesque 17th village pub.

Crews were called to a fire at the Black Lion Pub, Red Street, Southfleet, at 1.30am on Tuesday as the fire ripped through the wooden building.

At the height of the blaze 40 firefighters from across north Kent battled to control the fire, made difficult because of the timber-framed building's thatched roof.

Incident commander Phil Rice said: "It was a long pub and the seat of the fire was somewhere in the middle, but unfortunately it spread pretty quickly to either side.

"The pub had a thatched roof, which didn't help as once fire has taken hold of the thatch it is very difficult to put out.

"There was also a chimney stack right in the middle of the building which eventually collapsed. Because of this we couldn't get inside the building to fight the fire and we had to adopt defensive tactics, using an aerial ladder platform."

By 4am the fire was under control and the incident was scaled down. Remaining crews dealt with several hotspots as damping down continued until 10am.

Six fire engines including two from Thameside, two from Dartford, one from Swanscombe and one from Horton Kirby, including a height vehicle attended.

Richard Stevens, 42, owner of Red Street Garage, Red Street, Southfleet said: "I just came into work this morning and there were fire engines everywhere. It's absolutely dreadful for an old building like that to be gone from the village. It seems unlikely that they will rebuild it now. It's gut wrenching."

The road was closed throughout the night until around 9.30am while firefighters tackled the flames. No one was injured.

Margaret Wright, of nearby Brakefield Road, Southfleet said: " When I woke up I heard all the noise and smelt the smoke."

A joint investigation has been launched by Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Service into the fire they are treating as suspicious. Call Detective Sergeant Dave Masters on 01474 366098.

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