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Man loses Christmas presents in massive Gravesend flat fire
A MAN has lost ten of thousands of pounds of belongings and all his Christmas presents after a massive flat fire in Gravesend which was tackled by more than 50 firefighters.
Ian Blackmore, 41, was one of the seven residents and a baby of the Sun Lane flats who was awoken just after 4.30am on Thursday after the blaze broke out in one the ground floor properties.
Initial reports suggested a chip pan fire had been the cause but station commander Liam Hudson said the cause was likely to have been electrical.
It is likely the flats will be condemned leaving the residents homeless for Christmas.
All the residents escaped unharmed after passerby Andy Spellar, 27, of Lamona Avenue, rang 999 and helped save a man inside the burning flat when he heard shouting and saw smoke pouring out of the flat.
He was given a precautionary check for smoke inhalation at the scene but required no further treatment.
Mr Blackmore, who lived in one of the upstairs flats for five years, described the moment he was awoken by the alarm and bleary-eyed he went into his kitchen and saw smoke coming out from behind the washing machine.
He said: "I was still half asleep when I heard the alarm going off, I went into the kitchen and it was filled with smoke.
"I ripped the machine out of the wall and there was still smoke coming out of the wall.
"I then opened the cupboard next to it and I got a face full of thick black smoke.
"It was really scary, I didn't really know what was going on.
"I heard knocking outside my door and everyone was just trying to get out as quickly as possible.
"There was a man in the hallway telling us there was a fire and we tried to get the man in the downstairs flat where it had started out."
Mr Blackmore said he did not have contents insurance and was waiting to find out if the residents could go back into their homes.
Station Commander Liam Hudson from Kent Fire and Rescue, who was in charge of the incident, told News Shopper: "This was a bad blaze and thankfully nobody was hurt.
"The first machine arrived very quickly. At the height of the fire we had eight engines and two specialist pieces of equipment at the scene.
"The initial reports were of a kitchen fire and that was put out but then it became apparent that the blaze was spreading round the building through the wall cavities so we had to do this.
"We also used our Cobra Coldcutting which is a very powerful extinguisher to cut through the wall cavities. "The hydraulic platform was also brought up from Medway so we could fight the blaze from above.
"We covered up the solar panels on the roof before the sun came up because if we left them open they would have started emitting electricity which could have got very dangerous.
"It's a very tough thing to happen on top of Christmas."
The Red Cross were also called to the scene to give the residents tea and coffee, blankets and hats and to support them during the difficult time.
Saba Kamakendran, 44, who runs the Sun Lane newsagent next door, added: "I saw the smoke coming out of the building when I arrived at 5am.
"All my customers were standing on the street.
"I heard someone left a pan on the cooker and fell asleep and that's how it all started."
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