Christmas Day fire leaves Maidstone family homeless as Kent Fire and Rescue Service highlight fire safety week

A family whose house was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day when a present given just hours before caught light have forced to move six different homes while they wait for their home to be repaired.

During a game of charades, a fire alarm interrupted the Plumb family’s festivities at their home in Beech Tree Road, Maidstone.

Dominic Plumb (entre-right) wif his wife Niki and two sons.  (55942145)
Dominic Plumb (entre-right) wif his wife Niki and two sons. (55942145)

Dad Dominic initially thought the alarm was set off by his wife Niki, using the oven to cook snacks for the evening.

As he went to turn it off, a second alarm from upstairs started to ring in chorus.

Heading for the the second alarm, Mr Plumb began to smell smoke from one of his son’s bedrooms.

He said: “I opened the door and immediately felt extreme heat and then saw the bed was on fire and flames spreading across the room.

“I straight away realized how bad it was and closed to the door to hold the fire back from the rest of the house.

“I got everyone outside, and then we heard a loud bang as the windows blew out.”

Plumb's house showing fire damage on the outside.  Picture: Kent Fire and Rescue.
Plumb’s house showing fire damage on the outside. Picture: Kent Fire and Rescue.
Bedroom where fire started arered to nothing.  Picture: Kent Fire and Rescue.
Bedroom where fire started arered to nothing. Picture: Kent Fire and Rescue.

After everyone got out, Mr Plumb ranked 999 just before 7.30pm. Six fire engines were sent out, along with a height vehicle and the volunteer response team.

The blaze was eventually stifled but considerable fire damage had been caused to the bedroom, landing and roof space. There was also smoke damage throughout the upper floor.

Mr Plumb said: “Luckily no one was hurt. It’s really scary to think if the fire had started just a few hours later, my son would have been in that bed.”

It was found that the fire was caused by an electrical fault with a charger put on the bed. It was being used for the first time after being a stocking filler from earlier in the day.

Since that day, the Plumb family has moved between six properties, while their home is restored.

smoke detector of fire alarm in action.
smoke detector of fire alarm in action.

Though their family home is now temporarily out of use, it could have ended differently without smoke alarms and is something Mr Plumb is extremely grateful for.

Mr Plumb, who is speaking during Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s fire safety week campaign, said: “The thing we have learned from this awful experience is that smoke alarms save lives.

“We really have the smoke alarms to thank you for alerting us early on, before the flames could break through the bedroom door and spread around the house.

“Without working smoke alarms we might not have realized until it was too late.

“Also never leave anything charging on a bed, and avoid charging items overnight or when you’re not around.”

This week, the fire service will be calling in at homes across Kent to offer free safety visits and helping to test and install as many smoke alarms as possible.

Uniformed firefighters will be visiting as many houses as possible.

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