An historic Georgian home went up in rumbling “flames and explosions” on bonfire night.
Julian Thatcher was abroad when he received messages this morning showing his property in Ash, near Sandwich, gutted by fire.
A neighbour told how she banged on doors as flames meters high engulfed the house, known as Rose Hill, which is understood to have been occupied by intruders.
Five fire engines and a height vehicle attended the blaze at the derelict building shortly before 2am.
Crews fought the fire using main jets, hose reel jets, and water from hydrants.
Mr Thatcher, who does not live at the property in The Street, believes a “rogue firework” or “undue care” may have caused the building’s destruction.
He told KentOnline: “I imagine there will be an investigation into how the fire was caused and I think there must have been some kind of human intervention.
“It was bonfire night so it could have been a rogue firework, arson, or an accident where people were behaving with undue care.
“It was upsetting seeing those images and I feel really sorry for the neighbours who witnessed the house burn down.
Rose Hill in Ash, near Sandwich after the fire. Photo: Kate Russell
“At the moment we’re on a family holiday in the Canary Islands and woke up to various upsetting messages from people telling me what happened.”
Mr Thatcher told how the property has been plagued by intrusions and internal damage after having stood empty.
And he described how, a year ago, a mysterious fire was discovered in a barn on the building’s one acre of land.
“It was originally my grandparents’ home and, after various life-events, the house was left empty for years and years – my wife and I eventually bought it.
“But during that time there have been multiple intrusions by multiple intruders, with the police called on various occasions,” he explained.
“There was an incident about a year ago where it seemed the barn was almost set on fire.
Rose Hill in Ash, near Sandwich, pictured before the blaze. Photo: Kate Russell
“Over the years intruders got inside the house and destroyed the interior, they left it looking like a bomb had gone off.”
As smoke billowed, the fire tore through the home after midnight, with various neighbours calling the emergency services.
Cerys Stone, who lives nearby and dialled 999, banged on neighbours’ doors after seeing the home she has walked passed for years succumb to the flames in minutes.
She said: “When I first arrived the fire was large, but it seemed to be mostly on the ground floor – I really hoped that we had got there in time for the building to be saved.
“But in a matter of five minutes, it had spread and engulfed the whole house, the roof was collapsing and no sign of the fire brigade yet.”
Ms Stone added: “The fire was pretty loud and there was consistent rumbling of the flames.
“The fire was pretty loud and there was consistent rumbling of the flames.”
“The part that shocked me was all the exploding sounds coming from within the grounds, they were so loud, sounding like bird scarers.”
Ms Stone said she was alerted to the inferno after smelling burning and, when she went outside, the “road was covered in smoke.”
“Once I got there the fire department was immediately called, and I proceeded to knock on all the neighbours’ doors to alert them of the danger.
“I was in a state of shock, and my priority at the time was making sure everyone in the proximity was safe.”
There were no reported injuries and the cause is not yet known.
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