Firefighters rushed to Herne early this morning after a blaze erupted in a village church.
Crews were on the scene at 6.50am after an eagle-eyed passerby spotted smoke billowing from St Martin’s in Herne Street.
Traffic was brought to a standstill for 90 minutes as firefighters tackled the flames in a back room used for Sunday School and meetings.
The fire is believed to have been started by an electrical fault in an extractor fan.
Vicar Elaine Richardson dashed to the church at 7am after she was alerted by a neighbour.
She said: “When I arrived the place was full of smoke. I thought the site of the fire was in the vestry so I went up there with the fire extinguisher.
“I took my courage in my own hands and opened the door, but there was nothing in there.
”Then I realised it was coming from the Ridley Room. It was full of smoke and there were flames, so I decided to leave it to the firefighters.
“It was smouldering for quite awhile but they managed to extinguish it.”
Church warden Keith Record added: “We’ve been quite lucky really. We’re covered by fire insurance so hopefully we can get the damage repaired with minimum disruption.”
Firefighter David Franks said the early call had saved the fire spreading.
He said: “We managed to put it out quite quickly, which was probably due to the quick response.
“There was a lot of smoke logging throughout the church, so we had to use a special fan to blow it all out.
“There was minimal damage, which is really good. The vicar was happy.”