A woman’s birthday almost ended in disaster after fire broke out in her Shoreham home.
With the smoke alarm sounding and black smoke seen pouring from the property, a neighbour dialled 999, fearing that the family and their pet dogs were trapped inside.
Firefighters raced to the house in Mildmay Place, to try to save the family and their home. They had to force entry into the house wearing breathing apparatus to find that the fire had taken hold on the landing, spreading to the stairs.
Sevenoaks Watch Manager, Danny Barrett explained what happened: "The smoke was low and thick and visibility was very poor but our prime concern was to search the house to make sure no one was trapped inside.
"We used a thermal image camera to scan the building. This handheld device is like a set of eyes that can see through black smoke and darkness and can pick up body heat, making it quicker for us to find casualties. We quickly established that the family were not at home but that their dog had been overcome with smoke."
"Meanwhile, the resident had returned home to discover her home in flames and feared the worst for her pet but firefighters had other plans. They took the dog to safety and treated her with oxygen using a special pet mask that had only arrived on the fire station that morning.
The mask had been provided by not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws, following a donation from His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent, who after hearing about the fire said: "I am delighted to hear that the animal oxygen mask that I donated to Sevenoaks fire station with the help of Smokey Paws was used to save the life of a family pet so soon after it had been delivered."
Within minutes of receiving oxygen, the dog had greatly improved and was reunited with her owner. Meanwhile, fire crews used a high pressure hose reel to douse the flames and had extinguished the fire shortly after 8pm. They spent a further 30 minutes damping down and making the scene safe, leaving at around 9.15pm.
The family have had to be rehoused following the fire.
Notes to editors:
KFRS now has 47 pet oxygen masks available at 40 of its fire stations
The following stations are yet to receive the kit: Aylesham, Chilham, Cliffe, Grain, Hawkhurst, Margate, Sandwich, Southborough, Swanley, Swanscombe, Teynham, Tonbridge, Westgate, Wingham, Whitfield and Westerham
Money is raised for the masks via public donations and company sponsorship to Smokey Paws, a not-for-profit organisation. Visit for more information
KFRS received its first masks in November 2015 and since then they have been used on pets in Faversham, Sheppey and Sevenoaks