An Otford couple are encouraging others to sign up to Kent Fire and Rescue Service's (KFRS) new service - a clean sweep alert - after a frightening chimney fire in their home earlier this year.
Penny and Tony Hibberd had just sat down on a cold winter's evening in early January to enjoy the warmth of their open fire and a film on the television. However, it wasn't long before the drama began – unfortunately for the couple, it was off screen!
Tony explains: "We could hear a low rumbling noise and thought that the sound effects on the film were particularly good but as the noise got louder and more intense, we quickly realised our chimney was on fire."
The couple shouted to their daughter who was upstairs and grabbed their coats, shoes, keys and a phone as they left their home, closing the internal doors as they left. By this time, flames were roaring high into the chimney from the fire place.
Penny phoned 999 on her way out of the property, she said: "It seemed like an eternity while we waited outside for the fire service to arrive but they were there very quickly, within about five minutes but it was a terrifying ordeal.
"Initially I was worried about the soot and smoke causing a terrific amount of damage to the decoration and carpets in our home, yet none of that mattered once the fire service arrived, I just wanted them to get in as quickly as possible and put the fire out. But they were incredibly calm and very professional, they took the time to make sure carpets were protected with sheeting and we cannot thank them enough for the care they showed us and our home. We were amazed and very lucky at how little damage there was and dread to think what could have happened.”
Tony ended: "We don't want others to go through what we suffered. Please sign up to KFRS's clean sweep alert, get your chimney regularly inspected and maintained and make sure you only burn seasoned wood."
Go to our advice pages for more information keeping your family and home chimney fire safe Sign up to KFRS's free, easy-to-use clean sweep alert which will remind you in early summer to get your chimney inspected so that your fire is ready to light when the weather cools down. Watch KFRS’s short campaign film and hear Tony and Penny talk first-hand about their chimney fire experience.