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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 15:25 GMT
Former cinema destroyed by fire
Parts of an old cinema building may have to be demolished after being badly damaged in an arson attack on Sunday.

Ten fire engines were sent to the blaze on the corner of King Street and Queen Street, in Gravesend, Kent.

The fire spread quickly through the ground floor of the four-storey building, and witnesses said the rear of it had virtually collapsed.

Council officials are discussing whether the structure is now so unsafe that it needs to be pulled down.

A spokeswoman for Gravesham Borough Council said they would try to retain as much of the facade as possible, because it still fits in with the look of surrounding buildings.

She added that irretrievable damage had been caused to some of the old furnishings.

Homes evacuated

Police said it appeared the fire had broken out inside the cinema.

Pc Nick Webber said: "We are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious at the back of the cinema prior to 1915 GMT to contact police."

Fire crews spent most of the night battling the blaze and protecting nearby properties from the flames.

Police officers evacuated a small number of homes in Queen Street because of concerns over the safety of the cinema building.

No-one was reported to have been hurt during the incident.

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