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Snodland: witnesses describe massive fire that engulfed flats at Holborough Lakes

Witnesses have described the moment a massive fire engulfed a block of flats.

More than 100 firefighters were called to tackle the flames at Lambe Close, Manley Boulevard, Holborough Lakes early this morning.

Resident Nicola Holyoak was woken by neighbours knocking on her door at 6.20am, she said: "It's very worrying, everyone is in shock. I hope no one was injured."

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More than 100 firefighters are tackling the flames. Pic @HRPLew
More than 100 firefighters are tackling the flames. Pic @HRPLew

The complex includes 22 properties and is part of a development that only opened a couple of years ago.

Some people who lived there say they have lost everything.

Judy Govindsamy's friends live in one of the flats that has been destroyed. They are currently trying to get a flight home from a holiday in Turkey.

She said: "It's an absolute shock, it's such a lovely community here.

"I walked out and found people in tears, it really has shocked everybody."

Nicola Hughes, who lives in the area, headed down when she heard what had happened.

She said: "It looks like everybody is out the building and it looks like the top two floors have gone.

"It's still on fire."

Trevor Graham who went to the scene this morning to see if he could help residents. File picture.
Trevor Graham who went to the scene this morning to see if he could help residents. File picture.

Meanwhile Trevor Graham went to see if he could help when he heard the news this morning.

The 40-year-old said: "I woke up at about half seven and I think the fire started about half six.

“I saw it on Facebook and i went to see if I could offer assistance and when I got here there were residents standing on the streets and lots in dressing gowns.

“I donated a few bits and pieces - there’s a lot of village support too and a great sense of community spirit.”

Mr Graham, who lives nearby in Holborough Lakes, said: “There’s about 10 fire engines down here and it looks like it’s under control.

"The firemen are just about to go in with breathing equipment.

“There must be about 40 apartments and it has all been cordoned off.

“Everyone has been evacuated safely but the building is still smoking, but you can’t see flames as such.”

Aerial photo of the fire at Holborough Lakes. Pic Lewis Steeper – FalconUAV
Aerial photo of the fire at Holborough Lakes. Pic Lewis Steeper – FalconUAV

He said the chief fire officer made an announcement saying the building was unstable and unsafe, with fire crews saying they would salvage what they could.

The fire chief added that there would also be significant water damage to ground floor flats too.

According to him, the managing director of the development Peter Smith has offered help with providing temporary accommodation for those affected.

"It’s good to see them stepping up to help those affected,” he added.

The charred remains of the complex of 22 flats. Picture: John Westhrop
The charred remains of the complex of 22 flats. Picture: John Westhrop

Claire Stockley saw it from her window and said she heard sirens from around 7am.

She said: "I saw smoke from our sitting room window. But we're the opposite end of town so couldn't see much.”

Andrew Holt, an independent driving instructor, was on his way to pick up someone for a lesson who lived round the back of the estate when he spotted the smoke.

The 53-year-old said: “I came off the Leybourne Way and saw this big plume of smoke and realised that wasn’t normal industrial smoke, that shouldn’t be there.

“It was about 7am and it can’t have been alight for very long.

“I had seen a fire crew behind me on the A228 and that was the first one there.”

He then rang the man who was meant to be having the lesson that morning and said “we might have an issue”.

The Bearsted resident said: “It grew very quickly, it was an inferno within minutes.

“It took me completely by surprise, the flames were completely out of context, you don’t expect to see a roof engulfed in flames.”

He spent around 15 minutes there and watched residents being evacuated and making their way to their cars.

Leigh-Anne Osborne escaped from the fire with her 9 month old baby while husband James was at work
Leigh-Anne Osborne escaped from the fire with her 9 month old baby while husband James was at work

Leigh-Anne Osborne, who lives a few doors along from the blaze, told of her lucky escape with her nine-month-old baby.

She said: “Somebody banged on my door and said get out there’s a fire.

“I looked out and I could see the smoke. We’re on the top floor. I just grabbed my baby and got out quickly.”

Her husband Jamie had already gone to work, fitting furniture in Sunbury. He came home as soon as he got a call from his wife.

He said: “I legged it back. Fortunately our flat has not been affected, but it’s shocking to think what has happened our neighbours. They’ve lost everything.”


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