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Car dealers drive burning vehicles out of Swanscombe blaze

PUBLISHED: 15:23 12 May 2011

Swanscombe fire

Swanscombe fire

Archant

»Car dealers jumped into burning vehicles to drive them to safety as a huge fire at a neighbouring business unit threatened to engulf their entire stock.

Manager Darren Charles and worker Leon Roper risked life and limb to save their stock at Priory Renault Garage, London Road, Swanscombe, on Friday night, moving cars from the store’s display yard even as flames licked over the fence from the blazing body repair workshop next door.

Mr Charles, of Meadow Way, Dartford, said: “Yes it was frightening getting into a burning car, but it was either that or lose the whole lot. I could have lost everything.”

The pair then used hose reels, usually used to wash the vehicles, to try and douse the flames before firefighters 
arrived.

Mr Charles — who stayed on scene until after midnight anxious for his business — added: “Once we got as many cars out as possible we tried to fight back the flames. We have a large oil drum and we were desperate to keep that cool, because if that had gone up it could have been disastrous.

“The whole experience was terrible but it could have been so much worse.”

Fire crews arrived from across Kent to tackle the blaze, which began around 5.30pm, with 10 crews and 70 firefighters from several stations at the scene.

Teams fought through the night to contain the fire, eventually leaving around after 11am, almost 18 hours after it began.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager Chris Colgan said: “This was a well-developed fire and crews worked hard to stop it from spreading to adjacent properties.”

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined but is not being treated as suspicious. It is thought the fire began in the two-storey workshop before spreading to tyres and rubbish next to the site.

No-one was injured.

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