A Sevenoaks resident whose home was saved from a devastating fire - thanks to early warning from smoke alarms - is supporting Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s latest campaign to encourage people to test their smoke alarms weekly.
Homeowner Karen Lonergan and her family were out when she received a call to say that the fire alarms were sounding at the property.
Karen immediately sent someone to investigate and alerted the emergency services to a confirmed fire in the roof space of their house in The Rise.
When crews arrived they discovered a well developed fire in the roof space, which had already started burning through the roof joists.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus rescued the family’s two dogs and used a thermal image to assess the extent of the fire, which had started to come through the ceiling.
They attacked the blaze using hose reels and managed to contain the fire and stop it fire spreading to the roof. It caused damage to the roof joists, ceilings and sky-light windows, as well as destroying the boiler and the first floor bathroom, and the house was smoke logged throughout.
However, Watch manager Danny Barrett said that the damage could have been far worse. He said: "It’s highly likely that the whole house would have been destroyed if the alarm hadn’t been raised when it was, as the fire appeared to have been smouldering for many hours and it had really started to take hold when we arrived."
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has made a short film with Karen, as she talks about the aftermath of the fire and the impact it has had on her family, to help highlight the latest smoke alarm testing campaign - ‘Unsung Heroes’.
Karen said: "Knowing now that the fire was probably slowly smouldering away in the roof overnight, while my daughters and granddaughter were staying with me, is very scary and doesn’t bear thinking about. I know we were very lucky that no one was hurt.
"You just don’t realise how distressing and disruptive a fire in your home can be. I am just so thankful that we had working smoke alarms - I am pretty sure we would have lost our whole home otherwise."
She added: "If anyone doesn’t have smoke alarm, make sure you get them today and if you have them, please test them every week to make sure they will work when you need them to."
To find out more about KFRS latest campaign visit http://www.kent.fire-uk.org/news/campaigns/unsung-heroes/