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Evacuees allowed home after suspected arson at derelict Petham Green nursing home in Twydall


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Police remained at the scene of a suspected arson attack today after fire ripped through a former old people's complex.

Six people and a dog had to be taken out of their houses to safety when an old nursing home turned into an inferno.

At its height, about 50 firefighters were tackling the flames at the derelict building in Petham Green, Twydall, last night.

A number of nearby homes were evacuated by firefighters and Medway Council and the occupants given shelter and food. They have since been allowed to return home.

Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Rich Portsmouth
Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Rich Portsmouth

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Rich Portsmouth and his girlfriend Lisa Cansdale live directly next to the old home.

They were visiting Miss Cansdale's parents when they got a call to tell them to rush home and get their dogs out of the house because a fire had erupted next door.

Mr Portsmouth said: "It was about 5.30pm when we heard, so we shot back home. The firefighters let us go in to get the dogs out but we couldn't stay.

Video: Fire crews tackled the blaze at an old nursing home (by Richard Portsmouth).

Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Lukesh Malhotra @LukeshMalhotra via Twitter
Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Lukesh Malhotra @LukeshMalhotra via Twitter
Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Rich Portsmouth
Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Rich Portsmouth

"The side of our house was getting hot the the firefighters were soaking it with water.

"We were a little bit worried about the house, and we stood and watched for a bit, but there was nothing we could do."

The couple, who have three children as well as their German shepherd and lurcher, went back to stay with their family for a few hours and were let back into their house at 9.30pm.

Mr Portsmouth, 33, added; "The firefighters did a really god job. There were about 15 there when we got back so we made them all a cup of tea."

A Medway Council spokesperson said: "Medway Council was called on to help last night following a fire in a former nursing home in Petham Green.

"A number of people were evacuated on the advice of the fire service and while many made their own arrangements, the council took six people and one dog to a nearby sheltered housing complex while the fire was tackled.

"They were made comfortable with tea and coffee until the fire service said it was safe for them to return several hours later. We will visit the site again today although we understand nobody has any housing needs as a result of last night's fire."

Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Mick Feekings
Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Mick Feekings

Fire investigators are looking into what caused the fire - which is the second blaze there in just a few months - and suspect arson.

Eight fire engines were sent at 5.15pm and firefighters did not leave the scene until 4.45am today.

The two-storey home was derelict. When is was engulfed in flames the roof fell in on the building.

Crews were called out to the same home in June this year after smoke was seen coming from the roof.

Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Lukesh Malhotra @LukeshMalhotra via Twitter
Petham Green, Twydall, old nursing home up in flames. Picture: Lukesh Malhotra @LukeshMalhotra via Twitter

A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said last night: "Crews were faced with a series of single and two-storey buildings covering an area of 45metres x 75 metres well alight."

They added: "Firefighters are still tackling the fire at the derelict building, however crews have worked hard to bring the blaze under control.

"Crews will remain in attendance overnight and keep a watching brief to keep the fire under control. The cause of the fire is under investigation."

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