A Tonbridge family had a lucky escape after a fire in their kitchen that began because of a gas leak. Firefighters say the incident at the weekend could have been a lot worse - the family could have suffered other consequences including carbon monoxide poisoning.
Two fire engines were called to the property in Oakmead at 5.30pm on Sunday 9 August. When they arrived all four family members had left the property safely and had isolated the gas supply from the outside, however the firefighters were faced with an extensive kitchen fire.
The family had noticed the smell of gas earlier in the week, but hadn’t called a gas engineer to deal with the problem. As a result, the gas leak from behind the cooker was ignited from the flames from the cooker hob. Luckily there was not an explosive reaction, however the fire spread from behind the cooker to the cupboards and then up the walls to the ceiling. All of the occupants were upstairs, fortunately their smoke alarm sounded, allowing them escape and call 999 for Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS).
Firefighters tackled the fire for nearly two hours using a hose reel jet, breathing apparatus and a thermal imaging camera to eventually extinguish the blaze. The crews managed to contain the fire to the kitchen; however it caused serious damage to the room, as well as significant heat and smoke damage to the rest of the property.
Paramedics from South East Coast Ambulance Service carried out precautionary checks on all four occupants which included a couple in their late 70s; the family was also given home safety advice.
KFRS Watch Manager Mark Havell said: "The family were really very fortunate that nothing more serious happened. Gas leaks are dangerous and really should be addressed as soon as they’re discovered. KFRS recommends all home should have at least one working and properly fitted smoke alarm on every floor, and a carbon monoxide detector near any fuel-burning appliances, including gas boilers, wood burners or open fires.
Mark added: “As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to yourself and the residents in your home to ensure appliances and flues are safe. KFRS also recommends that you employ a Gas Safe registered engineer to regularly maintain and service all gas appliances and/or flues.”
To find a Gas Safe registered engineer visit the Gas Safe website or call 0800 408 5500. For home safety advice or to find out if you’re eligible for a free home safety visit please call Kent Fire and Rescue Service on 0800 923 7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org