Published: 15:12, 07 April 2021
| Updated: 16:58, 07 April 2021
A man has credited his beloved dog with sounding the alarm and saving his life after he became trapped in his second-floor flat following a suspected arson attack.
Bulent Barkut, who lives in Salem Place, Northfleet, was awoken around midnight last Wednesday to his three-year-old terrier Teddy frantically scratching and barking.
When the 58-year-old went downstairs to inspect the source of his pooch's complaints, he discovered the hallway of the block of six flats full of smoke.
He said: "I opened my door and and I could see smoke coming from inside the [main] building. If I'm sleeping I'm gone.
"I closed the door and went to open the windows and I could see three metres of flames."
Mr Barkut added: "I was having a panic attack. I was screaming help but no one was coming.
"I was opening my window to see if I could jump."
The pet owner says it was only after opening the front door that the smoke detector went off and he credits his canine companion Teddy with successfully sounding the initial alarm.
Shortly after, three fire engines were dispatched to the scene and crews used high pressured fans to clear the hallway of smoke.
Police also attended and the property was evacuated before the fire was safely extinguished.
No injuries were reported but crews had to rescue four people from the building.
One neighbour described seeing flashing blue lights illuminate his living room window amid the sound of sirens.
Manjin Derbassi, 43, who lives on the ground floor of the block, only became aware of the incident after spotting people gathering in the car park opposite.
"I didn't smell smoke or anything," he said. "All I could see was the police in the car park.
"Most of the building was evacuated, everyone just got in their cars."
Neighbours in Shepherd Street also reported hearing a loud bang go off in an alleyway next to the property.
"I thought I heard shotguns going off," recalled one resident of noises shortly after midnight.
"When I came outside the fire was waist height. A fireman pushed me back indoors and put it out with his foot."
Shortly after he was instructed by crews to come back outside to join other neighbours evacuated from their homes as a precaution.
"It was freezing. I only had on my dressing gown and pyjamas," he added.
Meanwhile, Mr Barkut says he is waiting to hear from his landlord and insurers to assess the cost of the damage in his home.
Inside, the door frame and roof are badly smoke damaged.
The upstairs bedroom and bathroom have also been covered in thick black soot and he says all his clothes now need replacing.
"I'm living here eight years and it has been very quiet, that is why I like it," he said. "It's the first time in my life I'm having a problem like this."
The fire is believed to have been started deliberately and police launched an appeal for witnesses and doorbell footage.
A 23-year-old man was arrested the next day and has appeared in court.
Brandon Jones, of Thistledown, Gravesend, has been charged with one count of arson with intent to endanger life.
He appeared before Medway Magistrates' Court last Thursday where he was remanded in custody to appear at Maidstone Crown Court on April 29.