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Dartford estate targeted by arsonists

PUBLISHED: 10:19 14 April 2011

Karen and daughter Katie at fire incident

Karen and daughter Katie at fire incident

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»A mother-of-one claims lives are being put at risk after suspected arsonists set fire to a communal bin store for a second time causing the evacuation of residents and smoke damage to the flats.

After the latest incident on Sunday, Karen Close, 47, of Dunlop Close, Temple Hill, Dartford, told how she heard flames “licking the bathroom window” as they crept from the wooden structure and up the outside wall of the flats at about 1.15am.

Having experienced a similar situation last August she quickly realised what had happened and with her daughter Katie, 17, and other residents rushed from the property.

Moat Housing refused to relocate the bin area following the first incident despite calls by residents, but will now investigate the possibility again.

Karen said: “When you first hear the flames licking the window and smoke filling the property you feel terribly trapped and vulnerable.

“There was a gas canister in that bin area, the flames were threatening to catch the roof. It is a disaster waiting to happen. There is room to move it so why not? Our safety should be priority and I don’t think our lives should be put at risk like this.”

The recent fire was so ferocious it smashed through several windows and caused damage to her bathroom. It totally destroyed the shed and spread to a car in the nearby car park.

Dartford firefighter Bob Chilmaid said flames could be seen from the top of the estate and about 20 people reported the blaze.

Intense

He said: “The fire was so intense we were also concerned that it had got under the eaves of the roof but we checked and there were no hotspots there.”

Two fire pumps from Dartford attended but a third, from Thameside, was also needed plus a turntable ladder from Medway.

A spokesperson for Moat Housing said: “Moat’s Property Services team will consider a further investigation into relocating the bin store away from the property in question.”

Police and firefighters are investigating and believe the blaze is suspicious.

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