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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Nine rescued from suspicious fire
Five adults and four children have been rescued from a fire in a block of flats in Gravesend.

The suspicious blaze began in a vacant ground-floor flat of a three-storey building in Parrock Street.

Kent fire crews arrived at the scene just before 0130 BST to find several residents trapped by clouds of thick smoke were hanging from windows.

A family of six was led to safety from the basement, and three adults were led down a ladder from the second floor.

Door blocked

Two pet dogs, a hamster, a rabbit and a rat were also rescued from the building.

None of the residents were injured.

The fire was discovered when police officers patrolling the area saw smoke pouring from the ground floor.

Andy Merriman, of Kent Fire and Rescue Service, said it had been a particularly challenging incident for crews.

"The crews had a difficult job in trying to gain access to the fire as the entry door to the flat had been blocked by furniture."

An investigation is under way into the cause as police and forensic science experts still examining the scene on Tuesday afternoon.

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