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Suspicious pub blaze

PUBLISHED: 14:56 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 23 August 2010

A DERELICT pub which was partly demolished illegally may have been set on fire deliberately, say firefighters. Four pumps and a height vehicle were called to a blaze at The White Post public house on Pelham Road, Gravesend, at 11.35pm on Tuesday. Sub-of

A DERELICT pub which was partly demolished illegally may have been set on fire deliberately, say firefighters.

Four pumps and a height vehicle were called to a blaze at The White Post public house on Pelham Road, Gravesend, at 11.35pm on Tuesday.

Sub-officer Chris Peacock, from Thames-side Fire and Rescue Service, said: "As we arrived there there was lots of smoke and flames, it was going quite well.

"We knocked it down with the jets but we needed to use the height vehicle to completely put it out as the building was partly knocked down and it was unsafe to go near it. It took us about three hours to get it under control. We are treating the fire as suspicious."

Resident Ray Chidgey, 55, of Pelham Road, witnessed the inferno.

He said: "We didn't know it was burning until the first fire engine turned up. We hear sirens all the time around here so we didn't think anything of it at first. It was very intense. There was lots of smoke especially after they started damping it down.

"I wasn't really surprised by it because I watched the Kent and Essex burn down 14 months ago."

The fire comes just two months after the owner of the nineteenth century building attempted to demolish it without permission in June.

Gravesham council had granted permission for the building to be converted into two dwellings but the agreement did not include provision for demolition.

The issue was discussed at Gravesham Borough Council's regulatory board meeting on June 25 where it was decided that an independent structural survey should be carried out on the building.

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