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Fire terror for flat owners

PUBLISHED: 16:09 04 August 2010 | UPDATED: 16:09 04 August 2010

Car fire rips through flats on West Street

Car fire rips through flats on West Street

Archant

RESIDENTS in a block of flats have spoken of their terror when a car fire spread to the building at midnight on Tuesday, trapping them inside.

As flames engulfed the bottom of a block of river front flats on West Street, Gravesend, residents were forced to climb to the top floor to escape the smoke after claiming the only exit was ablaze.

Father-of-two, Jim Crowhurst, 56, said: “It was very frightening, we all thought we were stuck. All the neighbours, around ten of us, got together in the stairwell trying to get out but the front door was blocked by flames.”

Mr Crowhurst, who lives on the third floor of four described waking to the sound of an explosion followed by what he thought was rain.

He added: “I looked out the window and saw the flames climbing. The noise, the crackling of the flames was terrible. A neighbour then began banging on the door.”

Kevin Dye, 52 and Yvonne Worley, 49, were in the flat beneath.

Ms Worley said: “We are lucky to be alive. We heard a car alarm and got up. Her partner added: “She looked outside and all she could see was black smoke.”

Firefighters were called to the scene just after midnight on Tuesday, with five crews from Thameside, Hoo, Medway, Maidstone and Swanscombe arriving to tackle the blaze.

Using a massive ventilation fan to clear smoke, they were able to escort the trapped residents to safety after around 45 minutes, and remained at the scene for nearly two hours.

Mr Dye said residents were able to re-enter the building at around 3.30am.

He added: “We couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t watch TV because the aerial had melted. In the end we watched a DVD to try and distract ourselves.”

The fire began in a car parked beneath the flats and the area has been cordoned off while officers investigate the cause of the blaze.

nick.hitchens@archant.co.uk

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