Sheppey fire update

People in Leysdown and Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey are being advised to stay in their homes and close all windows and doors as a precaution while firefighters tackle a serious fire.

3000 tonnes of baled hay and a tractor with a trailer are alight at Old Ridge Farm in Leysdown Road (B2331). A hundred crew are currently fighting the fire.

Because the barn is known to store ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertiliser which can explode when heated, fire crews initially set up a 400 metre exclusion zone.

The exclusion zone only affected the farmer and farmworkers. They have all been temporarily re-housed.

Firefighters also pulled back to a safe working distance, and set up ground monitor jets to prevent the fire from spreading.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service were called to the farm at 2.44am this morning following reports of a barn alight.

Crews are now allowing the fire to burn out under controlled conditions.

Kent Police have closed Leysdown Road. Villagers in Leysdown and Eastchurch are being advised that they will not be able to leave their homes until the road is re-opened.

Members of the public are being warned the smoke fumes could cause irritation. Any ill affects from the fire should be reported to NHS Direct in the first instance, who will advise on the best course of action.

Emergency services are asking the public for patience and cooperation and say they aim to get life back to normal as quickly as possible.

Fire crews are expected to be at the scene for the rest of the day.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.