Napier Barracks fire – Huge blaze and 'riots' at ex-army camp where 400 migrants are held

A FIRE has broken out at a controversial holding centre for asylum seekers at a former army barracks.

Footage has emerged online of smoke billowing from one of the blocks at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent.

Reports at the scene suggest rioting had broken out among a small number of people living at the camp this afternoon.

It is believed violence flared after residents were told there would be no more transfers from the camp despite an outbreak in Covid cases.

Eight fire crews and a police officers wearing protective gear are currently at the scene.

It is not yet known if anyone has been injured.

The Covid-hit facility recently saw a flare-up of cases as 120 out of the 400 people living there were diagnosed with the virus.

The barracks has been the centre of a series of protests by the residents in recent weeks over living conditions.

A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: "KFRS has been called to assist Kent Police at the Napier Barracks in Folkestone, following reports of a fire.

"Eight fire engines have been sent to the scene.

"People living and working in the surrounding area are advised to close their windows and doors as a precaution, due to smoke coming from the incident."

Migrant charity Care4Calais said on Twitter: "A fire has broken out and fire engines have been called to Napier Barracks in Folkestone following an upsetting afternoon for the residents."

Asylum seekers are being held there while their applications are processed.

Residents, many of whom have crossed the English Channel in small boats, have described it as "unbearable" and say social distancing in the barracks is impossible.

There have been reports of suicide attempts and earlier this month many residents went on hunger strike in protest at the conditions, which reportedly include 34 people sharing one shower.

A petition to shut down the site, along with a similar facility at a barracks in Wales, has amassed more than 10,000 signatures.

The Home Office, which commandeered the site last year, insists the accommodation in Kent is "safe, suitable, (and) Covid-compliant".

Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted the accommodation was of a "very strong" standard and "in line with PHE guidance".


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