By the time the third massive fire broke out it was clear they were no accident. Thick grey smoke rose from the Afghan community centre and blew across the white container camp, sending the children inside running for cover. Orange flames tore through the tarpaulin roof and the building was gutted before fire crews could reach it.

Multiple blazes erupted along the main street, where the remaining shops and cafes were situated. Volunteers and refugees battled to quell the flames. Others fled as neighbouring buildings made from plastic sheeting and wood ignited with ferocious speed.

Whole neighbourhoods burned. Gas canisters exploded. The sky above the sprawling camp was black with a thick, toxic smoke that blotted out the bright, early morning autumn sun. This was the violent end of the Calais Jungle.

The weeks leading up to the eviction were full of disbelief for the refugees. They had lived all year hearing rumours that the eviction was “next week”. The latest deadline seemed as uncertain as the last.

Plans were instigated to remove all adult refugees from the white container camp known as CAP and put 1200 minors in there for safety. Some 18 children are already currently missing, and during a February eviction 129 children disappeared.

As police numbers increased to 8000, some refugees began leaving. Families with small children dragged battered suitcases past riot police armed with assault rifles at the camp entrance.

Eviction notices had been handed out earlier stating all shops and cafes must close or arrests would follow. By Friday the 'commercial street' was abandoned and deserted.

Clashes between police and refugees began breaking out last weekend - the final weekend. Police fired huge amounts of tear gas into the camp. The young refugee men retaliated with rocks. One man turned his scarf into a slingshot. Portable toilets were overturned and set alight.

Photographers were attacked. On one occasion a large group charged us. I was struck square in the groin with one rock. One masked man shouted: “Fuck you and fuck your country.”

Riot police baton-charged the refugees, but this backfired, as more than a hundred people charged out the camp, forcing the police into a panicked retreat. One officer tripped over and fired a tear gas round at his feet, gassing the whole unit.

On Monday, a registration centre opened outside the camp. Refugees registered there to be relocated to one of 164 reception centres across France. At dawn a queue of more than 500 was already waiting.

Thousands were now on the move. Tensions built as queues got bigger and people feared being left behind. Some refugees started to push. Police pushed back. Crushes ensued. People cried out with pained faces. Several fights erupted in the middle of the crowd. Riot police pulled batons and charged in, throwing people out the way as they tried to reach those involved in the trouble. One man cried for help and collapsed over a metal barrier and was carried away by medics.

Within two days more than 4000 people had registered for relocation. At 3pm on Tuesday, a small army of riot police, backed up with water cannon, marched up the road and cordoned off a section of the camp. Bulldozers and demolition workers armed with crowbars and chainsaws moved in.

That night most of the 'commercial street' burned to the ground, fire crews unable to stop the mass blaze. One photographer witnessed the same man, a red scarf covering his face, set fire to many of the buildings.

By Wednesday morning whole neighbourhoods in the centre of the camp were on fire. Every few minutes large gas canisters exploded. Fire leapt from one rooftop to another. The wind switched and a shroud of thick black toxic smoke came down on top of me. I ran. A Sudanese boy was just behind me coughing and stumbling. I grabbed him, pulled him well away from the smoke and handed him to charity volunteers also fleeing the camp.

I decided to get out. The whole area was engulfed and the heat was becoming too intense. Away from the inferno, I finally saw the true enormity of the destruction. The horizon was filled with grey and black smoke. Enormous fires raged across six sections of the camp. An exodus of refugees fled with what few belongings they could grab. Some were shoeless, others had nothing.

One young Afghan man was crying. “My papers, my documents. Burning,” he screamed.

Several photographers said they witnessed a group of Afghan men torching some dwellings, another said he saw a group of Sudanese running away laughing from a fire. One firefighter unit claimed a young man, white skin with blonde hair and wearing black clothing, used road flares to ignite tents and huts.

That night as the temperature dropped to almost freezing 100 children were forced to sleep in the ruins. Tara Biles, a volunteer with charity Care4Calais, said police stopped them bringing in new tents. Sleeping bags were allowed.

First light on Thursday morning saw hundreds again queuing for registration, many of them children, but at 9am government officials said the centre would not open. Registration was over.

Volunteers worked flat out through the day to ensure the children would be registered for a reception centre and would not have to sleep rough in the camp another night.

As the sun went down the chief of police finally gave permission to bed down in the school, this time with adult volunteers to watch over them.

That morning I spotted two UK police officers, one from the National Domestic Extremist and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU), the other with SO15 Counter Terrorism Unit. They told me they were liaising with French colleagues to ensure the operation ran smoothly.

Finally, on Friday afternoon three buses arrived to take the children away. Government officials put plastic bags over the seats before they let the children on. Refugees hugged charity workers and said goodbye to friends. As buses departed some of the volunteers broke down in tears.

Whatever the truth is behind who started the fires, one certainty is the Jungle inferno only benefited the eviction operation.