Published: 12:36, 26 July 2021
| Updated: 13:06, 26 July 2021
Sunlight shining on a mirror caused thousands of pounds of damage when it started a house fire.
The blaze broke out in the bedroom of a property in Belgrave Road, Halfway, on the Isle of Sheppey.
Three fire crews in breathing apparatus used jets to put out the flames before they could spread to the rest of the property but the house was left with devastating smoke damage on Friday, July 16.
The owner, who did not want to be named, is now helping Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) alert others to the dangers of mirrors.
He said: "My wife noticed the sun was shining on a vanity mirror and moved it down to the floor. But the sun must have still been shining on it. She left the room but when she returned, she saw the flames on the bed.
"She grabbed both of our dogs and ran out into the garden. But in just a few minutes the fire had taken hold and the black smoke was halfway down the wall.”
He added: “I knew I couldn’t do anything so I ran out of the house and called the fire service who kept me on the line.
"I don’t think I’ve ever panicked so much but the control operator on the phone was great. I really would urge people to get smoke alarms fitted because they do save lives. You should never underestimate the power of fire and the devastation it can cause.
“It’s certainly a terrifying experience and in the aftermath, looking at the smoke damage, it’s unbelievable. You can see how some people aren’t so lucky and lose their lives. I can’t believe how fast and how much smoke filled the house in such a little time. I felt so useless that I couldn’t do anything.”
Phil Rice, group manager at KFRS, said: “The occupants were right to get out and call 999 straight away. They provided us with all the information we needed to respond and extinguish the fire before it could spread throughout the rest of the house.
"This incident shows just how easy it is for magnifying or reflective objects to start fires which is why it’s so important everyone keeps mirrors and other items such as crystal and glass ornaments away from windows and out of direct sunlight.
"Instead, they should be placed in a shaded area where sunlight won’t reach it throughout the day."
He added: “You can also stay safe by ensuring you have smoke alarms fitted on each floor 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."