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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Dickens' Bleak House hit by fire
Bleak House fire
The family who live in Bleak House were out when the fire started
A fire that damaged part of Charles Dickens' Kent home was an accident caused by discarded smoking materials, fire teams said on Monday.

About 40 firefighters were called to Bleak House in Broadstairs, at about 2130 BST on Sunday.

The fire service said the fire began in a first-floor bedroom. No-one was in the property at the time.

Bleak House, built in 1801, overlooks the sea and is where the writer completed his novel David Copperfield.

The building, which takes its name from one of the author's novels and houses the Charles Dickens Museum, is now privately owned.

Floor 'caved in'

Six pump engines from Thanet, Margate, Sandwich, Herne Bay and Ramsgate and Canterbury extinguished the blaze within an hour.

The brigade launched a two-pronged attack, entering via a flat roof on the first floor and through a ground-floor entrance.

Part of a bedroom floor caved in, damaging valuable items in the snooker room below.

Firefighters remained at the scene until 0500 BST on Monday, making sure it was safe and attempting to salvage as many items as possible, including furniture and pictures.

No-one was injured in the blaze as the occupants were out.




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