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FAMILY FLEES AS FIRE RIPS THROUGH HOME

Mum and four children rehoused following fast-spreading inferno

A FAMILY has been left homeless after a blaze ripped through their home in Herne Bay. The fire, at a semi-detached house in Stanley Gardens, is believed to have spread from a garden shed. It is believed that the occupants, Wendy Southall and her four teenage children, Jamie, Nathan, Maddie and Cody, are now living in temporary accommodation. Fire crews arrived at the scene on Thursday to find the ground and first floors of the house “severely damaged”. Neighbour Sue Clowes, 45, who lives with husband Terry, 45, son Riley, 19, and two dogs Beamer and Bandit, said they were eating their dinner when the fire started. The mother-of-three said:

“The fire started at around 5pm, it was terrifying. One minute we were sitting down eating our tea, and the next minute smoke starting to come into our house. Soon after, we could feel the heat of the fire in our living room. I called 999 to report the fire and they said they had had a couple of calls already. It all happened so quick, the fire was out of control and unpredictable. The heat was so hot and, the next thing, our back windows started to crack. We grabbed our two dogs and got out. It was petrifying.”

Mr and Mrs Clowes put the dogs in the car and waited for firefighters to tackle the blaze. Mrs Clowes said:

“We waited outside for around four hours and the not knowing what was going to happen was the worst thing. We thought we were going to lose our home. We’ve had a lot of smoke damage upstairs. One of our bedroom walls is black and our back windows have cracked. The whole thing has been our worst nightmare.”

Mr Clowes, a bus driver, said he brought fire crews around the side of his house so they could tackle the blaze. He believes it was that piece of quick thinking, together with a concrete wall between the properties, that saved his family’s home.

Destroyed

It did, however, sustain smoke and fire damage, with guttering, window frames and garden furniture all destroyed. Mrs Clowes said:

“The worst-affected part is the attic. We’re terrified to go up and look, though, as we’ve got 30 years’ worth of mementoes up there.”

She fears that the damage is great enough that she and her family themselves will have to be rehomed temporarily. She added:

“Until we speak to the council we don’t know who’s going to be responsible for paying for everything. That’s the worst part of it, the unknown. We’re living in limbo. We’re living with the smell and there are constant flashbacks. We feel they will have to move us while this is sorted out. The way I look at it, though, we’re alive.”

It is not yet known how the fire started.

Herne Bay Times, April 8th 2015

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