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Young mum Sonnie Hemphill tells of blaze horror after rescuing teen from Britton Street, Gillingham blaze

By Nicola Jordan

A young mum woken up a by a fire alarm kicked open a door with her bare feet to rescue a teenager from his smoke-filled home.

Sonnie Hemphill, 21, was dressed only in her nightie as she shook the youth awake and dragged him out of the maisonette in Britton Street, Gillingham.

She then braved acrid fumes from the smoke to make sure there was nobody else inside.

Sonnie with her daughter Maicee-Mai
Sonnie with her daughter Maicee-Mai

Meanwhile Sonnie yelled for her sister Hannah, 20, to dial 999 and look after her screaming one-year-old daughter, Maicee-Mai.

The drama unfurled at about 5am on Saturday, when Sonnie, Maicee-Mai and Hannah were staying at her mother’s home at Albert Manor.

Sonnie, who lives Chatham, said : “I didn’t think twice at the time. I just thought there are eight families living in the maisonettes and we could have all been killed.”

As she went to see what was going on, Sonnie saw the door to the maisonette was on the latch and kicked it open.

She went into the kitchen and turned off the oven but as she turned into the living room, she saw the youth slumped on a settee.

“I kept shaking him for about a minute. It was dark and I couldn’t breathe" - Sonnie Hemphill

Sonnie, said “I kept shaking him for about a minute. It was dark and I couldn’t breathe.”

After getting him out she returned to her mum’s maisonette two doors away and grabbed a damp cloth to cover her mouth before going back in.

She said: “I had it in my head I had seen a baby in there. I would never have forgiven myself. The fire brigade said I should not have gone back in.

"But I think I would do the same again.”

Firefighters from Medway and Strood attended the incident. A spokesman said it was thought to have been caused by food left cooking in an oven.

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