Ev­ery­thing up in flames

Com­mu­nity ral­lies to help fam­ily made home­less

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE HARE­FIELD com­mu­nity has come to­gether to help a fam­ily-of­seven forced out on the street, af­ter a fire gut­ted their home.

Mandy James and her whole fam­ily, in­clud­ing her part­ner, two sons, two daugh­ters and her twoyear-old grand­daugh­ter, were at home when their tum­ble drier caught fire.

Ms James was wo­ken up by her part­ner in the early hours of Thurs­day, Fe­bru­ary 25, to the hor­ror that the three-storey fam­ily home, at Sanc­tu­ary Close, Hare­field was up in smoke and flames.

She told the Gazette: “I thought I was dream­ing. I couldn’t see any­thing it was so thick and black and the kids were shout­ing.”

Mandy’s part­ner suf­fered burns to his hands and stom­ach try­ing to put the fire out him­self.

Speak­ing a day later, Ms James said: “Look­ing at the house though it’s just wow – if it had got to the middle floor I would’ve lost my daugh­ter and grand­daugh­ter.

“It felt like hours but it hap­pened in min­utes. My neigh­bours and friends have been won­der­ful since.

“One of my neigh­bours called the fire brigade and three en­gines got there in min­utes – they were all lovely.”

It took nearly five hours for fire­fight­ers to tackle the blaze, which dam­aged the ground and first floor.

A Lon­don Fire Brigade ( LFB) spokesper­son said: “We were called at 4am and the in­ci­dent was over for us at 8.55am.

“A tum­ble drier caught alight and seven per­sons had left the build­ing be­fore the fire brigade had ar­rived.

“We had 14 fire­fight­ers and of­fi­cers from Ruis­lip, Hilling­don and Har­row at­tend­ing the blaze, in three fire en­gines.”

The en­tire fam­ily have been forced out of their now un­in­hab­it­able home, gut­ted by the fire, and Ms James, who works two jobs at Hare­field’s exser­vice­men’s club, is yet to be put up by Hilling­don Coun­cil.

She was of­fered a place in Hayes but couldn’t risk not be­ing able to carry on work­ing and dreads the pos­si­ble thought of col­lect­ing ben­e­fits.

She said: “I’ve been here two years there must be some­thing in place for emer­gen­cies like this. I need my fam­ily to­gether.

“This job is so im­por­tant to me, it’s a roof over my head and it’s a com­mu­nity – I love work­ing here but I wouldn’t be able to carry it on in Hayes.”

The 53-year-old suf­fered an­other blow when she went back to the house to find an op­por­tunist thief had en­tered the garage and taken what was left in the prop­erty.

But the mother-of-four has been ‘over­whelmed’ by the sup­port and help she’s had from the Hare­field com­mu­nity since.

Neigh­bours ral­lied round of­fer­ing clothes and toys, and a friend set up an on­line crowd­fund­ing page to col­lect cash do­na­tions.

Ms James said: “Peo­ple now need to hear about the good in the com­mu­nity and how peo­ple rally round peo­ple.

“I’ve been ab­so­lutely over­whelmed with the peo­ple of the vil­lage do­nat­ing, do­nat­ing, do­nat­ing – I’ve been do­nated so much stuff I’ve had to say please stop!

“I’ve lived here for 30 years and this is a com­mu­nity that cares, it re­ally is.”

Ms James ex­tended her thanks to Wendy Rice-Mor­ley, Kirsty Nevin, Cllr Jane Palmer, as well as her work col­leagues and neigh­bours.

The Gofundme page to help Ms James and her fam­ily can be found at www.gofundme.com/e2r55r2k

n DE­STROYED: The dam­age to the kic­then of the fam­ily home in Hare­field.

In­set left, the black­ened front door

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