Fire crews tackle huge blaze at flats in Sun Lane in Gravesend
Smoke billows from the blazing flats in Sun Lane
A hero has told how he helped rescue a man trapped in a huge blaze tackled by around 50 firefighters in Gravesend today.
Andy Spellar was walking to work when he spotted smoke pouring from flats in Sun Lane at around 4.30am.
The 27-year-old, who works at Morrisons, rang 999 - but helped save a man inside the burning flat when he heard shouting.
Mr Spellar, who lives in Lamorna Avenue, said: "I was going past and I could see this smoke coming from the flats.
"I thought it was someone's boiler pumping smoke out, but as I got closer I realised it was a fire.
"I rang the fire brigade and they said they wouldn't be long, but then I could hear this man's voice shouting for help.
"I started ringing all the door bells of the flats and people started coming down and they let me in.
"I tried to break the guy's door, but it was too thick and eventually he managed to get it open and I got him out.
"We got one of his windows open and the smoke just poured out."
The block of flats, comprising four homes, has been badly damaged - leaving uncertainty around Christmas for the residents.
Fire crews at the scene of a house fire in Sun Lane, Gravesend
A neighbour, who did not wish to be named said she woke up to see several fire engines outside her home.
"They've been told they're going to condemn the flats, so they will lose their homes and just before Christmas - it's just terrible..." - neighbour
She said: "I've heard that a man in the bottom flat had put a pan on and fell asleep.
"The guy above him got woken up by the smoke alarm and thought it was his flat on fire as smoke was pouring out from behind his washing machine and out of his cupboards.
"He said the hall was just full of thick smoke and the bloke downstairs was banging his door for someone to get him out.
"They've been told they're going to condemn the flats, so they will lose their homes and just before Christmas - it's just terrible."
Firefighters use a height vehicle to tackle the blaze
Kent Fire and Rescue Service said the rescued man was given a precautionary check at the scene by paramedics for breathing in smoke, but did not need more treatment.
A spokesman said crews arrived within five minutes after the blaze broke out in the kitchen, but said it quickly spread to the roof.
Eight fire engines, a command support unit and height vehicle were called to the scene along with Kent Police and South East Coast Ambulance Service crews.
At 7.30am, another two fire engines were called to the scene, where there was also a British Red Cross vehicle.
A tarpaulin over the fire-damaged roof of the building in Gravesend
Firefighters used breathing apparatus and a cold-cutting firefighting system to tackle the blaze because of concerns about the building's structure.
The fire in the roof space was brought under control about an hour later and some crews were stepped down.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way, but firefighters do not believe it was started suspiciously.
The road was closed while fire crews dealt with the blaze
As the numbers of crews were cut back, firefighters with breathing apparatus remained inside the home and removed partition walls to ensure there are no further hot spots that could start more flames.
Solar panels on the roof of the property were covered by a green sheet to stop them working.
Normally electricity would be switched off, but solar panels run constantly.
As many as 10 fire engines were sent to the scene in Sun Lane, Gravesend
Sun Lane was closed between Kitchener Avenue and Whitehill Road because of the blaze.
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