A huge fire ripped through a massive coffee factory as dozens of firefighters tried to stop the inferno from spreading.

Dozens of residents were evacuated from homes surrounding the UCC warehouse in Dartford - one of Europe's largest coffee plants - at about 5.45am today.

Dramatic photos showed huge flames engulf the building, on the Riverside Industrial Estate, as the fire spread to surrounding buildings.

Firefighters are expected to be stationed at the warehouse well into tomorrow as the coffee beans need to be dampened down properly.

But one resident admitted she was "surprised" that plumes of smoke didn't smell like coffee.

Witness Claire Wheeler, who lives on a nearby estate, said: "I woke up at 5.45am to a very loud popping sound.

"I looked out of the window to see the factory on fire.

"I called 999, but they had already been called.

"I have only lived here on the new estate for a year.

"The factory is in constant use. I've never heard or seen any problems before. You can always smell coffee.

"There were 10 fire lorries all using their hoses. One fireman asked the water board to see if they could get more water pressure. The fire is now under control.

"Surprisingly, there's no smell of coffee."

Another neighbour, Anna Turner, tweeted: "Shocked to see this as I stepped outside my door this morning. I hope no one got hurt."

James Walsh added: "Huge fire at gala coffee in Dartford this morning. A lot of fire crew there.

"I believe they are manned 24 hours, hope no one is injured."

The incident follows an earlier blaze in 2015, when staff were evacuated after machinery caught fire.

The site is owned by Japanese coffee giant UCC, which has sales of £2 billion worldwide and has its UK headquarters in Milton Keynes.

The Dartford site at one point received one per cent of the globe's coffee exports every year, equating to 9,000 tonnes - or one billion cups of coffee.

It is thought to employ about 80 people.

UCC managing director Elaine Swift said: "Early this morning a fire broke out at our Dartford Roastery within the Riverside Industrial Estate.

"No employees were hurt, and we understand the fire has been contained in the warehouse area.

"We have a team on site managing the incident and helping the Fire Brigade and a disaster recovery team in full flow focussing on business continuity.

"We are working hard to secure production and supply for our customers to minimise disruption and will be supported by our European roasteries if necessary.

"We will share regular updates as and when we can."

People living close to the factory were allowed to return to their homes earlier today but firefighters are expected to remain on site into tomorrow.

Video credit: @dazzler_1972