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Folkestone fire: blaze started accidentally, say fire service

A fire that tore through three houses in Folkestone is believed to have started accidentally, Kent Fire and Rescue (KFRS) has revealed.

The blaze in Wear Bay Crescent is thought to have started in the conservatory of the most badly damaged house, which has since been demolished.

One house was so badly damaged it had to be demolished. Photo: KFRS
One house was so badly damaged it had to be demolished. Photo: KFRS

Two weeks later, one family that was affected is taking steps to come to terms with what has happened.

Ben Hills, his wife and his son were in Copenhagen when they were contacted regarding the fire on Monday December 30.

Mr Hills, who spoke to KentOnline of his family's ordeal, revealed today that much of his house was saved after his family closed the internal doors before they left.

He said: "We had smoke alarms fitted in our house and the firefighters told us that our alarms were going off like there’s no tomorrow, and our internal doors were shut which stopped a lot of fire and smoke spreading to other parts of the house.

"It’s quite strange because in two rooms you wouldn’t necessarily know there had even been a fire, because the doors were shut."

Ben Hills' house was next to where the fire started. Picture: Steve Salter
Ben Hills' house was next to where the fire started. Picture: Steve Salter

KFRS area manager Colin King said: “The Hills family did exactly the right thing, closing all internal doors when leaving the house.

"It makes a huge difference in a fire, slowing a blaze down and reducing the amount of damage to the rest of a property.

"If you can, it’s really good to get into the routine of closing internal doors before you go to bed or before going out.

"And of course, remember to test your smoke alarm weekly so you’re alerted as soon as a fire starts, giving you and your family the best chance of escaping safely.”

The Hills are now starting a rebuild project, hopefully starting this week, which is expected to take around a year to complete.

Smoke could be seen in the sky for miles. Photo: Nigel Scutt
Smoke could be seen in the sky for miles. Photo: Nigel Scutt

Mr Hill said: "It was such a big fire and we know we’ve got a huge project ahead of us and it’s going to take a while for it to get sorted.

"We’re working with specialist contractors, who work on rebuilds and we’ve been told that we’ll be lucky to be in by Christmas.

"But we think we’ve found a house around the corner that we’re going to rent until we’re back in, which is a positive step."

There has been an outpouring of support for Mr Hill, his family and their neighbours, with people from all over Folkestone offering aid and wellwishes.

People have offered to donate clothes, furniture and money for the victims, with an online fundraiser having raised more than £2,600 so far.

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