A Canterbury family was forced to flee their home in Hawe Close after a fire broke out in the early hours of this morning.
The blaze was discovered when the daughter, believed to be about 18 years old, awoke to find her room full of smoke. She rushed out of her bedroom and could hear the smoke alarms sounding, alerting her mother and brother to the blaze.
Four fire engines were sent to the property, the first arriving within six minutes of receiving the 999 call. Canterbury Watch Manager, Paul Wood, said: "We could see a great deal of smoke over the roof line of the property as we approached but fortunately the family had managed to get out safely. However, there were concerns that four dogs and a snake were still trapped inside."
Firefighters in breathing apparatus did a thorough search of the terraced house and rescued the snake. The dogs had already escaped and were being cared for by neighbours. Crews used a main jet from a hydrant supply to tackle the blaze. The whole house was affected by smoke damage and the first floor of the property was destroyed by fire, with extensive damage including floor and ceiling collapse.
Paul added: "Residents were evacuated from neighbouring houses and crews did an excellent job, working hard to stop the fire spreading to the rest of terrace. We used thermal imaging cameras to check for fire spread in the loft and a positive pressure ventilation fan to help clear smoke from the house.
"Working smoke alarms in your home are essential as they provide vital early warning and allow extra time to escape if there is a fire in your home. They can also alert neighbours to the danger of fire.
"We want to make sure all homes in Kent and Medway have working smoke alarms - it's the best protection you can have against fire. That's why we offer free safety advice and services to everyone. Speak to one of our home safety advisors today - call freephone 0800 923 7000, or email us. All our services are free of charge."
Due to the damage to the property, the family stayed with neighbours overnight. The cause of the fire is being investigated but believed to be electrical.