Firefighters struggled to reach the address of a house fire in Littlehampton last week due to inconsiderate parking on many roads in the area, a spokesman said.
The first crew on the scene in Linden Road at 5.42pm on Wednesday (December 27) was forced to initially make their way to the property on foot, while additional crews worked to find a way through for the fire engines, the fire service spokesman said.
Fortunately, three working smoke alarms in the property alerted the occupiers to the fire and the family were able to escape the house, before firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire in the ground floor lounge.
Adrian Carter, group manager, who attended the scene, said: “This is a notorious area for poor parking and our crews dread receiving a call to these streets because they know how difficult access will be.
“We urge all drivers, not just in this area but all residential roads where street parking is allowed, to think about where they park and whether a large emergency vehicle could get through.
“We’re not exaggerating when we say this could be the difference between life and death.
“We commend the family for having working smoke alarms in the property which undoubtedly limited the severity of the incident, and full praise to our crews who did a fantastic job despite the access issues.”
The family of five ‘lost everything’ in the fire, which was caused by an electrical fault and took firefighters more than eight hours to tackle.
A fundraising page set up to support the family amassed more than £2,000 in less than 48 hours, while many residents came forward to offer donations of clothes and other items.
The mother of the family said she was ‘overwhelmed’ by the support.
She said: “I can’t thank the firefighters enough for their quick actions, especially given the parking issues around our home.
“After what’s happened to us, I want to urge everyone to have working smoke alarms because without a doubt the alarms saved mine and my children’s lives that evening.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of my family and the wider community since the fire; so I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us get back on our feet through donations, gifts and messages of support.
“I only wish I could thank each of you in person.”