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Family urges people to check smoke alarms after fire destroys their house in Saltwood, near Hythe

Parts of a harrowing 999 call have been played in a new fire safety video which reveals how a family escaped their burning home.

David and Bronte Sercombe - who spoke to KentOnline earlier this week - have teamed up with the fire service for the video message to urge people to check their smoke alarms every week after theirs failed to go off when a fire started in their Saltwood house, near Hythe.

The father and daughter were left trapped upstairs after the fire broke out in the stairwell leading to the basement of the property, in Sandling Lane.

Having been alerted to the fire by workmen, David had rushed upstairs to find Bronte, and the pair had to jump from a first floor balcony to escape the black smoke and flames.

Their ordeal has been captured in the new video, which offers safety advice to other families, including establishing an escape plan.

David, 53, said: "I ran up the stairs to Bronte’s room where she was sleeping, I grabbed her, and I had in my mind we needed to get to the bedroom with the balcony.

"Between us we managed to stumble across the landing through all the smoke.

"We were really disorientated, we couldn’t see anything and we couldn’t breathe.

David, Bronte and Claire Sercombe outside their house. Picture: KFRS
David, Bronte and Claire Sercombe outside their house. Picture: KFRS

"We were desperately trying to hold our breath and at that point, I thought we weren’t going to make it.”

Bronte, 22, said: “It was like something out of a horror film, being on that landing.

"I can’t put into words how scary it was. I thought we were going to die.”

The pair managed to reach the fresh air on the balcony and called dialled 999.

Parts of that harrowing call are included in the new video.

The family home in Saltwood was destroyed in a fire last Wednesday. Pictures courtesy of the Sercombe family and Charlotte Barcham
The family home in Saltwood was destroyed in a fire last Wednesday. Pictures courtesy of the Sercombe family and Charlotte Barcham

At the height of the fire, which happened on Wednesday, November 18, five fire engines, a height vehicle and a bulk water carrier were sent to the scene.

Crews wearing breathing apparatus used hose reel jets to bring the flames under control.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s Volunteer Response Team also attended to support the family.

The fire, which is believed started accidentally due to an electrical fault, caused extensive damage to the house.

The family, which also includes David's wife Claire, and children Rowena, 17, and Bradley, 19 - who were all out at the time -, are now encouraging others to be more conscious of fire safety.

The devastation caused by the fire
The devastation caused by the fire

David said: "The support the fire service gave us was actually incredible, and I cannot fault the aftercare service that we've had from them.”

"We just feel very, very lucky we got out alive.

"We’ve lost everything. We’ve lost our home, and everything within our home.

"It is devastating and the only positive we can take from what’s happened to us, is to urge others to make sure their homes are as safe as possible.

"Check your smoke detectors and replace the batteries regularly, and also look at your windows and doors and have a fire escape plan in place for different scenarios.

The fire is believed to have started accidentally
The fire is believed to have started accidentally

"People we know have said to me what they’ve done as a result of our fire, and it’s really heartened us to hear some good might be coming out of this."

The officer in charge of the incident, station manager Rob Groombridge, said: "What happened to the Sercombe family home is absolutely devastating for them all, and our thoughts are with them at such a difficult time.

"Thankfully, both David and Bronte were unharmed.

"You can help to reduce the risk of a fire or emergency in your home by ensuring you have smoke alarms fitted on each floor of your home and testing them once a week.

"It’s a good idea to have an escape plan too, so everyone in the household knows how to get to safety in an emergency."

Read more: All the latest news from Hythe

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