A solar panel caught alight sparking a fire which ripped through the roof of a block of unoccupied new flats, it has been confirmed.
Crews were called to Redrow’s housing development in Ebbsfleet yesterday morning after thick plumes of smoke were spotted coming from the new-build.
The incident lasted around five hours before firefighters brought the blaze fully under control.
An adjacent block of flats was evacuated as a precaution before its residents were allowed to return.
A fire investigation has since confirmed the cause of the fire to be a solar panel which caught alight accidentally and spread to the roof of the building.
Six fire engines and a bulk water carrier were called at around 11am.
Crews wore breathing apparatus while working to extinguish the blaze and finished at about 4pm.
The building was still under construction at the time of the blaze.
A neighbour recalled seeing workmen still inside the block working at the time the panel caught alight.
Ebbsfleet resident Danielle Hart said: “All we know at the moment is the solar panels were alight while builders were inside the building still working.
“We live opposite and just saw the flames, but when we got closer the builders said all their belongings were still inside and they weren’t allowed back in due to it currently needing to be inspected by the fire department.”
Redrow yesterday confirmed the fire took place at its Ebbsfleet development. Managing director Ben Fewsdale said: “We can confirm a fire took place in the roof space of an unoccupied block of flats at Ebbsfleet Garden Village.
“The building, containing 15 unoccupied flats, was under construction at the time.”
One Redrow employee was taken to hospital as a precaution.
A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “Following a fire investigation, it’s believed the fire started accidentally, when a solar panel caught alight and spread to the roof of the property.”
In September last year, flames ripped through the roof of an apartment block at St Mary’s Island, Chatham.
Residents feared it had been caused by a solar panel and the fire service confirmed it started due to an electrical fault.