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Whitstable family's thanks as house fire in Island Wall spotted by neighbours and passers-by

A woman has praised firefighters and the community after they stopped rapidly-spreading flames from engulfing her home.

Lucy Boutwood, 59, had put ashes from a wood burner - which she thought were cold - in a plastic bag outside in Island Wall, Whitstable.

The rapidly spreading blaze in Island Wall. Picture: Lucy Boutwood
The rapidly spreading blaze in Island Wall. Picture: Lucy Boutwood

But the heat from the ash then spread to a bin which ignited, with the fire quickly spreading to her home.

She was alerted by passers-by and neighbours in Island Wall, Daniels Court and Saxon Shore who “risked their safety” coming into the house to get her and her 13-year-old dog Elmo out.

“I heard an explosion,” Mrs Boutwood said. “I thought someone had put something through my front door.

“This was about 20 minutes after I had put the ashes outside.

“I looked out of the upstairs windows and saw smoke, and downstairs was filled with smoke.

Lucy Boutwood had no idea flames were pouring from her semi-detached home. Picture: Andy Jones
Lucy Boutwood had no idea flames were pouring from her semi-detached home. Picture: Andy Jones

“The bang was the sound of two inflatable paddle boards exploding, which alerted the neighbours.”

About seven people called the fire service before Mrs Boutwood had even noticed the blaze.

She praised Natalie and Andrew Hennessy, who run The East Kent pub and were walking with their dog when they saw the fire.

Ms Boutwood’s semi-detached house is built from wood and she said the fire could have spread to neighbouring properties.

“There was a fair amount of damage done to the corner and the roof, but no internal damage,” she said.

The damage to the property. Picture: Whitstable Nest
The damage to the property. Picture: Whitstable Nest

“If the fire service had been another five minutes it would have caught the fibreglass installation in the roof and that would have ended badly.”

Three fire engines rushed to the home at 10.30am on Monday, November 18.

Crews found an external corner of the building ablaze on arrival.

Wearing breathing apparatus, they used jets of water to tackle the blaze, and worked quickly to stop the fire from spreading indoors.

“Every time I go outside I see the damage and it comes back to me,” Ms Boutwood added.

A fire engine at the scene of the blaze. Picture: Whitstable Nest
A fire engine at the scene of the blaze. Picture: Whitstable Nest

“Pete [her husband] and I would like to say a huge thank you to the amazing fire service for their super quick response.

“They put the fire out so efficiently and quickly and although we have suffered external damage there was none internally.

“It is brilliant how the whole community pulled together to help me and showed an incredible kindness.

“It was a collective embrace of solidarity.”

The incident prompted crews to warn people never to put hot ashes into a bin, and to “ensure the ash has fully cooled before safe and appropriate disposal”.

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