Dozens of firefighters tackle huge blaze at row of houses in West Malling High Street
Fire crews battle
a blaze in West Malling High Street. Picture: Jeffrey
by Susan Hilder
A neighbour has described how three families watched helplessly
as their homes burned down in a huge fire in West Malling last
Sixty firefighters tackled the blaze that broke
out in a row of period houses in the High Street at about
The fire started in the loft of one house - before
spreading to two other properties.
Smoke billowed from the roof as crews battled
to control flames licking the skyline.
"These people have got nothing except what they stand in..." – neighbour Jeffrey Hurst
Two houses have been destroyed after the roof fell in and the
other has been severely damaged. The residents - three couples
- escaped uninjured.
Neighbour Jeffrey Hurst described how the occupants watched as
their houses burned down.
He said: "They are all our friends, all three of the families.
Fortunately everybody got out, nobody got hurt at all. Their lives
are severely ruined because they've got nowhere to live.
"These people have got nothing except what they stand in, they've
got no clothes - nothing.
"I saw all six of them, three couples, and we were standing
together watching their houses burn down."
The blaze is tackled from
above after fire started in the roof (below). Pictures: Jeffrey
Mr Hurst added: "These are period houses - listed buildings.
It's quite serious, there's nothing left of them now.
"The roof of the first one just completely fell in and all
that's left is a shell now.
"These are three-storey houses and they are maybe 200-years-old
so the wood in them is like tinder and you could see the fire
running along the cornice just above the top windows. It's just
At the height of the blaze, 10 fire engines and two height
vehicles were at the scene.
Around 30 firefighters were still damping down this morning.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service said the cause of the fire is not
Crews assess the damage
after a fire in West Malling. Picture: Martin Apps
Meanwhile, around 30 firefighters tackled a Maidstone house fire
at just after midnight.
The blaze broke out in the kitchen of the St Philips Avenue
property before spreading to the first floor and loft.
Six crews spent two hours battling the fire, which
left the building severely damaged.
It is not thought anyone was injured and the cause is being
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