A Broadstairs couple who suffered a fire at their flat are backing a Kent Fire & Rescue Service campaign urging people to close internal doors.
The fire started in Michael and Marjorie Corden’s spare room, which was ravaged by smoke and flames, but the rest of the Broadstairs home was left largely untouched, all because the door was shut.
Now, the pair who routinely close their internal doors before going out or going to bed, are backing Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s (KFRS) latest campaign, called Smoke is No Joke.
Michael, 81, said: “From doing that one simple thing of closing the door, it didn’t just save our flat, which we love very much, but it’s possible it saved all the other homes in the building as well.”
The great-grandparents had been out running errands on 3 March when they returned to find fire engines in the street. They were horrified to discover crews were tackling a blaze inside their home, after a neighbour had called 999 having heard the smoke alarm.
The fire is believed to have started due to an electrical fault in the spare room, where they kept treasured family photos and other memorabilia, which were all destroyed in the blaze.
Michael said: “It was a terrible shock. Black smoke was pouring from the windows and then there was a big bang, followed by a lot of flames. We were just standing there in disbelief and all we could do was cry. It was devastating.
“I dread to think what could’ve happened if we had left the door open, I doubt our home would still be here. This goes to show it’s extremely important to make closing internal doors part of your everyday routine.”
The couple lost books and photos that had been in the room but say closing the door saved their home and the other flats in the building.
Michael said: “There’s a lifetime of books and photographs lying in a burnt pile on the floor but at least the flat didn’t go up in flames.”
KFRS Building Fire Safety Inspector, Kim Williams, said: “Smoke and fire can spread rapidly, but a closed standard internal door can hold it back for at least 30 minutes, which gives you and your loved ones vital time to escape safely, and it reduces the chance of extensive damage to your home.
“Our new Smoke is No Joke campaign is about advising everyone to close doors before going out or going to bed, when you’re less likely to be aware of a fire in your property. It’s particularly important to close the kitchen door, where we know a fire is most likely to start, or the door closest to the kitchen for more open plan homes.”