Kent Police confirms it has launched an arson investigation into the fire at an ex-military facility accommodating illegal migrants.
Eight fire engines attended the scene at Napier Barracks in Folkestone on Friday to combat the blaze.
Authorities have now confirmed that the fire is thought to have been started deliberately, with enquiries ongoing to identify those responsible.
The facility had been subject to an outbreak of Covid-19 after the migrants being housed there ignored social distancing rules to protest the conditions within the camp and demand their freedom.
Dozens were transported out of the camp on Monday and taken to hotels following the outbreak. According to the Home Office, those who remained at the camp “became aggressive, turned violent and began to set about destroying the barracks” after they objected that had not received the hotel treatment also.
Humanitarian worker and Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley confirmed as much, saying: “Everyone was really upset and a small number of people caused a bit of a ruckus in the dining room and they knocked over tables and then a fire was started.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel released a statement on Friday evening on the “shocking scenes”, calling the damage and destruction “appalling” and “deeply offensive to the taxpayers of this country who are providing this accommodation while asylum claims are being processed.
“This type of action will not be tolerated and the Home Office will support the police to take robust action against those vandalising properly, threatening staff and putting lives at risk.
“This site has previously accommodated our brave soldiers and army personnel – it is an insult to say that it is not good enough for these individuals. I am fixing our broken asylum system and will be bringing forward legislation this year to deliver on that commitment.”