The organiser of the Whitstable Toy Run has told how he was beaten back by thick, choking smoke as he tried to rescue his partner from their blazing home in the town on Monday night.
Steve Stubbs had gone to the shop to buy some dog food shortly after 7pm leaving MS sufferer Edwina Nixon lying on the sofa watching television.
But he returned just 15 minutes later to find a neighbour had called 999 because the property in Railway Cottages, Station Road, was alight and full of smoke.
Steve, 46, tried to get past the front door but it was blocked by his dog which had collapsed.
He said: “I managed to drag him out but I couldn’t get into the house because of the thick, black smoke.
"Then the firemen arrived and pulled me out the way to get to her.”
Ms Nixon was rescued from the lounge and given oxygen by firemen before being taken to the QEQM Hospital at Margate where she is recovering from smoke inhalation.
Steve’s dog, Joe was unconscious and was also given oxygen at the scene.
Firefighters say Ms Nixon was smoking when she dozed off and her cigarette set the sofa alight.
Whitstable watch Manager David Nolan said: “This sends out a really important warning to others about the dangers of smoking and not disposing of cigarettes carefully.
"If it hadn’t been for the neighbour, we could easily have been dealing with a fatality.
“Two retained firefighters rescued the woman and both crews did an excellent job of limiting the spread of the fire although the whole house has been smoke damaged.
"Our warning is that other residents might not be as lucky.”