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Fundraising page set up for family after house fire in Dover Road, Folkestone

A kind-hearted next-door-neighbour and church minister has set up an online fundraising page to help a Folkestone family whose home was ravaged by fire.

Firefighters and police scrambled to the house blaze in Dover Road shortly before 9pm on Wednesday night.

Now a fundraiser to help the family affected has smashed its initial target of £2000 and has been upped to £4000.

Residents reported seeing smoke billowing from the roof of the property from several roads away as three fire engine crews attended the scene and spent 90 minutes extinguishing the flames.

No injuries were reported, but the house has been extensively damaged and partly destroyed.

A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: "The kitchen was 50% damaged by fire, the remainder of the ground floor was 50% damaged by smoke and the first floor was 80% destroyed by smoke."

Now neighbour Christopher Ruddle has set up a JustGiving webpage to help the family-of-four named Leon, Steph and their children Paige and Harry.

Speaking to KentOnline's sister paper the Folkestone and Hythe Express, the 45-year-old said: "It's a semi-detached and we're the other half of the semi.

"We were there when the fire happened."

Emergency services at the scene in Dover Road. Credit: Kent 999s (2905393)
Emergency services at the scene in Dover Road. Credit: Kent 999s (2905393)

His wife was out when the fire started next door, but Mr Ruddle had to flee with his 18-year-old daughter after he got a knock on the door to warn him.

He described how the inferno spread: "The fire started at the back of the house and the decking caught fire. The windows then caught fire.

"It was raging quite heavily. The fire service did a wonderful job.

"The rest of the house has got smoke damage throughout.

"The soot is everywhere."

The JustGiving page set up for the family (2905313)
The JustGiving page set up for the family (2905313)

Fortunately, fire crews managed to contain the flames so they did not spread to Mr Ruddle's home.

Mr Ruddle is minister at Folkestone Baptist Church, where he has been a member of the clergy for 15 years.

Friends and members of the congregation had been asking him how they could help, prompting him to set up the page.

He reported that while Leon managed to rescue the family guinea pigs, they are currently unable to live in the property: "I wanted to help, and this is a way people can show their support.

"Unfortunately, they're not insured so that's why they need some help.

"It's a very strong sense of community in east Folkestone and it's good to see people pulling together to help each other in times of need."

The cause of the fire is thought to be accidental.

Emergency services at the scene in Dover Road. Credit: Kent 999s (2905395)
Emergency services at the scene in Dover Road. Credit: Kent 999s (2905395)

Crews wore breathing apparatus and used high-pressure hose reel jets to tackle the flames and a positive pressure ventilation fan was used to drive smoke and fumes from the property.

A gas safety engineer and and an electrical safety engineer from UK Power Networks were also called to the site.

A fire service spokesman said support was offered from their Volunteer Response Team and the British Red Cross to the residents, but they declined assistance.

To donate to the JustGiving page, click here.

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