Home ... Herne Bay ... Devastated family homeless after fire rips through house

Devastated family homeless after fire rips through house

Mother and four children lucky to scape unhurt

A family has been left homeless and in shock after a fire ripped through their home. The blaze began at the back of Wendy Southall’s home in Stanley Gardens, Herne Bay, at 5.30pm on Thursday. Firefighters battled the flames for four hours, then workmen boarded up the house which has been badly damaged. Next-door neighbour Terry Clowes said it had been a “lucky escape” for both Ms Southall and her children, and his own family. He said:

“She knocked on my door to tell me there was a fire. I could see it coming from the shed, so thought I would get a hose, but then it just starting going up and that was it. We had to get out. It was scary. It just spread so quickly. We were lucky and it was a lucky escape. The shed was about 2ft from the house. It burned down all the garden fences and spread to the house. It could have been worse. There had been a tree in the back garden that was cut down recently. If that had been there, the fire could have spread to other houses.”

Mr Clowes suffered damage to his property including melted PVC windows, smoke and water damage, and a gaping hole in the roof. The damage to Ms Southall’s property was extensive. Friend and neighbour Graham Schofield said the family of five had lost everything, including pictures of their late father. He said:

“She was sitting in the living room when she heard one of the gas canisters going off and shouted for everyone to get out. One of her sons went out in his bare feet. Now they have lost everything. I was talking to the fire brigade who said one upstairs bedroom has no floor left. The other has very little and is dangerous. All their possessions and things which were upstairs are now downstairs. The kitchen and bathroom may have survived better, but apart from that everything is gutted.”

Now neighbours have set up a Facebook group and Just Giving page in order to raise emergency funds for Ms Southall, her three sons and her daughter. One neighbour is helping to bring clothes and food to Ms Southall, who has been put in temporary accommodation by East Kent Housing. She told the Gazette:

“It’s a terrible tragedy and accident. Wendy is still in total shock. No family should have to go through it, but we’ve had good community spirit with people helping each other.”

Herne Bay Gazette, April 9th 2015

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