Five people have been injured in what firefighters have described as a “massive blaze” at a reefer warehouse at the Port of Sheerness.

Six fire engines, 50 firefighters and six tug boats put out the fire, which took place at a fresh produce cold store that was set to be decommissioned. The warehouse was subsequently destroyed by the fire.

The fire, which started at around 11am on Monday and was put out by 12.50pm, created a “large dark cloud” that could be seen for miles, according to eyewitnesses at the scene.

Five men, three treated at the scene and two taken to the Medway Maritime Hospital, suffered from smoke inhalation.

A spokesman for the Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: “The warehouse, which was not in use at the time, was completely destroyed by fire. Crews remained at the scene initially to extinguish remaining hotspots, but that duty has now been handed over to the port’s owners. The cause of the fire is not yet known.”

Gary Parkinson, managing director at Peel Ports Medway, has praised the fire service for their quick response to the fire.

He said: “I would like to thank the Kent Fire and Rescue Service as well as our tug operators Svitzer and the operations team at the port who reacted so swiftly and professionally to what was potentially a very hazardous blaze.

“Thanks to their efforts we were able to bring the fire under control in less than two hours. The fire damage was confined to one warehouse, and the port is now fully operational again. We are now working with the relevant authorities in order to establish the cause of the blaze.”

In recent weeks, Peel Ports Medway had announced it was considering closing its W6 fresh produce facility at the site and had written to the trade to advise of a consultation process with staff.

Fresh produce multinationals currently at the port include A1, Grapes Direct and Chiquita.