Published: 14:12, 24 November 2020
| Updated: 14:58, 24 November 2020
By Charlotte Barcham
A father of three is urging people to check their smoke alarms after his family’s house burnt down in a devastating blaze.
David Sercombe, 53 and his eldest daughter, Bronte, 22, feared for their lives inside their burning home in Sandling Road, Saltwood, near Hythe, after the alarms failed to go off.
A number of workmen were inside the building at the time and alerted David, who was on a Zoom call while working from home, that a fire had broken out behind the kitchen wall under the main staircase.
Upstairs, Bronte was asleep unaware that the blaze was rapidly spreading downstairs.
David said: “We had several battery operated smoke detectors throughout the house and carbon monoxide detectors but for some undetermined reason they didn’t go off.”
After realising his daughter was asleep upstairs, David fought through the smoke to bring her to safety.
He said: “I was engulfed in black smoke and fell against our landing window and an adjacent wall and hit my head.
"I was only able to see Bronte emerge from her bedroom from the light behind her.
"I grabbed her and we made our way out across the landing with great difficulty.”
Bronte said: “I felt like I was in a horror film. The only thing that made me alert to what was going on was my dad’s screaming.
"I opened my bedroom floor to complete darkness. We were surrounded by thick, black smoke.
"All I remember thinking was that we were going to die.”
David added: “It was amazing how quickly the fire developed within a matter of minutes.
"Had our alarms gone off, we would've had more time. We were extremely lucky to have escaped.”
After struggling to find a way out through the smoke, David and Bronte eventually jumped to safety from a bedroom with a balcony on the first floor.
The family of five were having their kitchen renovated at the property when the fire broke out at 8.45am last Wednesday.
Paramedics attended the scene and treated both Bronte and David for smoke inhalation before discharging them.
Firefighters and police also attended the blaze and the road was shut for almost 24-hours as they battled to control the flames.
At the time of the blaze, David's wife Claire was dropping Bronte's sister Rowena, 17, at school while her brother Bradley, 19, was out.
The family, who are currently staying in a holiday rental, say have been completely overwhelmed by the support as they begin to rebuild their lives.
David said: “Taking help from other people is not something that we find easy to do.
"Having lost everything, the support has been unbelievable in every way imaginable and we will never ever be able to thank people enough for what they have done.
"That includes the fire service, the paramedics, the Red Cross, the local community, family, friends, friends of friends.
"We have been overwhelmed with clothing, toiletries just everyday pieces that we take for granted.”
"We’ve lost our home, we’ve lost all our possessions.
"Bronte and I nearly lost our lives.
"The only good that can come out of this, is if we can spread a message of fire awareness in other people’s homes.
"You can never take fire safety too seriously, you always think it will happen to somebody else.”
A forensic team is currently gathering evidence to determine the cause of the fire.