An out-of-control bonfire is believed to be responsible for a large fire that took hold of a range of buildings yesterday (6 July) in Hurst Lane, Charing.Kent Fire & Rescue Service

Firefighters were called to the incident at just after 3pm and were confronted with a well-developed fire that spread from a fence to a rubber-floored riding school ménage and several outbuildings, as well as a large area of scrubland and undergrowth.

At the height of the blaze six fire engines and a bulk water carrier attended the scene and fire crews battled dry, windy conditions to contain the fire. A woman in her 40s required the attention of South East Coast Ambulance at the scene.

It is believed that the fire started out as a bonfire and due to windy and dry conditions, surrounding undergrowth the fire rapidly spread to a wooden fence that was approximately 40 feet away. The resulting flames and heat then unfortunately ignited the rubber flooring in the ménage, creating a plume of back smoke and spreading to other outbuildings.

Watch Manager Mark Thomas, who was in charge of the incident, said: “Despite challenging conditions, crews managed to save several of the brick-built outbuildings and some of the stable blocks. Sadly, this incident highlights just how easy it is to underestimate the affects of fire, especially at this time of year. After a long period of mainly dry, hot weather, outside vegetation can catch fire very easily and, as was experienced yesterday, can burn out of control rapidly, especially in windy conditions where sparks and embers can travel across vast areas in a short period of time, making it very difficult to tackle.

  • “We would therefore urge residents to exercise extreme caution and avoid setting bonfires where possible. If you do decide to have a bonfire please build it well clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences, hedges and overhanging branches and never leave itunattended. Keep bonfires to a manageable size and evenly built so that they collapse inwards as they burn. In addition, keep a bucket of water or hosepipe nearby in case of emergency. Always ensure an adult supervises the bonfire until it has burnt out and if it has to be left, damp it down with water and make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.”
  • Mark added: “And last but not least – NEVER use flammable liquids to help start a bonfire and never burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries.”