Candle fire destroys home in Bell's Lane, Hoo
An unwatched candle is thought to have caused a blaze which gutted a village home today.
A woman in her 20s was believed to have been alone in the house in Bell’s Lane, Hoo, when the fire broke out at 12.45pm.
She escaped unharmed as the flames took hold and within minutes they were streaking out of the windows.
About 20 firefighters were at the scene for two hours using water jets, breathing apparatus and a lifting platform to inspect the damage.
Mick Dennis, watch manager at Maidstone Fire Station, said: “When we got there the top front bedroom was well alight, with lots of flames and smoke issuing out the window.
“The front bedroom was totally destroyed by fire. There was smoke damage to the remainder of the property and some water damage.”
Neighbours said an off-duty police officer broke into the next-door house, which was empty at the time, to rescue the owners’ four dogs.
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, claimed the house is rented by a care firm to look after adults with learning difficulties.
“I’ve raised concerns before that something like this has been waiting to happen,” the neighbour added. “If you had a nine- or 10-year-old would you let them light a candle in their bedroom?
“It only took 10 minutes from a little bit of smoke coming out to it being full flames, then the glass exploding.”
Hundred of Hoo pupil Aaron Gascoyne, 11, was one of the first people to dial 999.
Aaron, of Bell’s Lane, said: “We were in the park making a den in the bushes and we saw this big puff of black smoke.
“We were all on our bikes so we raced up there and all we saw was flames coming out. I rang the fire brigade and they said they would be right down.
“We saw the windows shatter and the gutter fall down.”
Mr Dennis said: “We’d like to remind people never to leave candles unattended and to put them on a non-flammable surface.”
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