A MAN has told how an "explosion" destroyed the back of a building during a ferocious fire.

Joe Hoadley was working nextdoor to the industrial site which caught alight in Beach Road, Newhaven, at about 9.30am today.

As the flames took hold, a huge cloud of smoke billowed so high into the air it could be seen from as far afield as Lancing and Seaford.

WATCH>>>Videos show devastating extent of the damage caused to industrial building in 'serious' Newhaven fire

Now, Joe has described how the fire enveloped the building.

The 32-year-old was working when he was first alerted to the fact that something was wrong.

So he went to see for himself.

The Argus:

He said: "As I got there the fire was in full swing with flames bursting out of the roof and the side of the metal building.

"Fire crews were already there and they were busy trying to control the fire.

"We ran to our yard to move our big machines as far away as possible in case the fire spread, and some of the other business were doing the same thing.

The Argus:

"Once we had done that, as we were standing there, there was an explosion which blew out the back of the building.

"Fire services started to blow their whistles and they all stood back.

"Then, a few minutes later, the door gave way and collapsed."

Joe said he and others in the area had been told to stand back from the site just moments before by fire crews at the scene.

He said: "It was great to see the fire services working and the way that they handled the incident was amazing.

"Just before the roof gave way they got everyone out of the building as if they knew it was going to fall.

The Argus:

"It was great work from the fire service and police." 

Fire crews are now scaling back the operation after more than eight hours at the scene.

A spokeswoman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: "A huge thank you to everyone who has assisted us as we tackled the fire, including West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Sussex Police, Lewes District Council and, of course, those in and around the town."

You can catch up on today's incident with our ongoing live blog>>>