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Dog killed in Maidstone house fire was elderly woman's soul mate, neighbours say

Neighbours say an elderly woman who lost her dog in a fire has lost her soul mate.

Smoke filled 86-year-old Jean Jones’ home in Westmorland Road, Shepway, last Saturday (October 6) after an electric blanket sparked flames in her bedroom.

Mrs Jones, who had only just recovered from a broken hip, managed to make her way downstairs, where neighbours were waiting to help.

Malcolm Wickenden came to his neighbour's rescue
Malcolm Wickenden came to his neighbour's rescue

Malcolm Wickenden, who lives next door with his daughter, said: “My daughter said she could hear something like stones being thrown at the window.

“When she looked out the window she yelled out ‘dad, Jean’s house is on fire’.

“We went outside with a torch and Jean passed her keys through the window, so my daughter could open the door.”

Firefighters carried the mother-of-five back to Mr Wickenden’s house, before she was taken to Maidstone Hospital suffering with minor smoke inhalation.

Her dog Fly was still inside.

By the time firefighters had the 14-year-old Collie out of the house he had passed out.

Jean Jones' burnt out mattress damaged in Saturday night's fire
Jean Jones' burnt out mattress damaged in Saturday night's fire

Despite crews using a pet oxygen mask and giving a heart massage, Fly died at the scene.

Mr Wickenden, 85, said: “Fly was her soul mate.

“All he wanted to do was play, he’d pick up his toy when kids went past to try and get them to play.

“He’d chase my cat sometimes, but you’d rarely hear him bark.

“The firefighters told us two or three breaths of smoke and he would have been asleep, a few more and he would have died.

“He was an old dog.

“We did what we could to help, we just wanted to be good neighbours.”

A spokesperson from Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: “The fire is believed to have started accidentally by an electric blanket controller, which started sparking when the woman turned it off and dropped it down next to her bed. As she started to walk away from the bed it set light to the bedding and mattress.

“The upstairs of the property was smoke damaged.”

Fire crews returned the following day to issue safety advice to neighbours.

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