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House badly damaged by fire

A FIRE tore through a house in Greenhithe, near Dartford, after books and papers had been stacked on top of an extension lead.

It also emerged that the property in Knockhall Road did not have a smoke alarm, sparking an urgent safety warning from firefighters.

Crews were greeted by a female occupant just before 4pm on Saturday and immediately spotted the flames inside the property.

Initially, it was feared children were trapped inside but firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus searched the home and found it to be empty. The blaze wrecked most of the living room while the rest of the property was damaged by heat and smoke.

It is understood a young girl who lived there was able to salvage her GCSE coursework from the ruins.

Firefighter Paul Osborne told how a woman managed to escape before the blaze spread. She was taken to Darent Valley Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and shock.

But Mr Osborne said: "If she had not seen the fire take hold, a smoke alarm would have saved her life. It is important not to bunch up extension leads and have an alarm fitted.

"With smoke alarms, people should check them monthly and replace its battery every year. Ideally, we want every household in Dartford to have one."

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