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Fire in The Drive, New Barn sees homes evacuated amid gas fears

Eighteen homes were evacuated in the early hours amid a fire involving gas cylinders.

People living in The Drive in New Barn, near Dartford, were not able to return to their properties following the blaze, which broke out just after 1am.

The inside of the garage has been destroyed
The inside of the garage has been destroyed

Janis Clarke was one who was told to leave her home. She said: "It was a bit of a shock to the system. I heard the fire and looked out and thought it does not look too good.

"I called the fire brigade. When they arrived, they started hammering on the door saying to close the windows.

"I shut the door and went to do so and then they were hammering on the door again saying to get out."

Janis said she spent around four-and-a-half hours out of her home.

People living nearby were urged to keep doors and windows closed.

The fire broke out in a domestic garage and the decision to evacuate homes was taken after it was discovered gas cylinders were being stored in the building.

The aftermath of the garage fire
The aftermath of the garage fire

Four fire engines were at the scene along with police officers.

Another neighbour – who did not want to be named – had only been home for two hours after arriving home from a family holiday in Crete when he was woken up by the noise.

He said: "I heard all the sirens and a lorry reversing and reversing. I am a light sleeper so I looked out the window and it was a fire engine. There was two at the time.

"By the time I woke everyone up there was a fireman at the door and he said to get to the back of the house.

"He then knocked again about five minutes later and told to get out in case of an explosion. He said he could not leave until we all got out."

The neighbour was told a 200m cordon was being set up and said crews kept everyone updated on the situation.

A car parked outside has also been burnt
A car parked outside has also been burnt

He said they eventually allowed some people to get their cars off their driveways and he and his family tried to find a hotel to stay at but ended up at a friends while they waited to be allowed back home.

"We only had two hours kip," he said. "The man who lived there was devastated. Everyone was out on the road."

An emergency service worker who lives in the street added: "My sons saw the blue lights. We only had three hours sleep. They just said there had been a garage fire and we were all evacuated."

Emergency services were at the scene
Emergency services were at the scene

An update at 7am said earlier advice for people living near the area has been lifted and evacuated residents were now beginning to return to their homes.

A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: "Crews have made the scene safe, and are damping down remaining hotspots. A garage and a car have been destroyed by the fire.

"There are no reported injuries and cause is not yet known."

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