Everything up in flames
Community rallies to help family made homeless
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