Published: 13:15, 05 September 2017
Two police officers who rushed into a burning building to save a mother and daughter trapped in the flames have been praised.
The pair were rescued after a fire broke out at the four-storey property in West Street, Gravesend shortly after 1pm last Thursday.
Now, dramatic details have emerged of efforts to save those stuck inside as the flames spread.
PCs Ben Watts and Andrew Simpson were on patrol when they spotted the fire. They entered the building but were beaten back by the smoke and heat.
PC Simpson said: "It was impossible to walk more than a few feet in the main corridor. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face."
PC Watts added: "We knew there were two people on the first floor, a mother and daughter. They said they were trapped and couldn’t get out."
After re-entering the building and attempting several times to access the upper floor, the officers enlisted the help of people nearby.
PC Watts said: "I asked a member of the public for a ladder.
"Shortly after, myself and three others put it up and encouraged the mum and daughter to climb down.
"They had to dangle over the edge and trust all of us below as the ladder was only a few steps high."
The blaze was put out by firefighters is not being treated as suspicious. It is thought to have been caused when a lampshade caught alight.
The mother and daughter suffered minor injuries and were taken to hospital for treatment, along with one other person.
A dog was also rescued from the building.
PC Watts added: "The Gravesend community really rallied together and offered their support and assistance in various ways. They banded together to help others when it mattered most.
"Andy and I would like to thank those who assisted us with the ladder and getting the victims out of the building, as well as KFRS and the Red Cross who provided a first class service.
"We’re glad no one was seriously injured."
Chief Constable of Kent Police Alan Pughsley said: "I’d like to extend my thanks to Ben and Andrew. Their actions are a testament to themselves and Kent Police.
"We also cannot forget it was the helpful actions of the Gravesend community which ensured a more tragic set of circumstances were avoided.
"This is the perfect example of how officers don’t just investigate crime but also protect the public no matter how challenging or dangerous the circumstances may be. I am very proud of them."
Kent Fire and Rescue Service area manager Lee Rose added: "Every second is critical in a fire, particularly when people are trapped inside. Ben and Andrew are a credit to themselves and Kent Police.
"They put their lives on the line to rescue the trapped women and could quite easily and quickly have been overcome by smoke and flames. Their quick-thinking and bravery is to be commended."
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