Com­mu­nity ral­lies round to help ex­plo­sion vic­tims

Ap­peal or­gan­iser salutes town’s re­sponse af­ter homes de­stroyed

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Transport Update - By Vicky Castle

The or­gan­iser of an ap­peal to help vic­tims of a sus­pected gas ex­plo­sion has said the com­mu­nity spirit in Ash­ford is won­der­ful.

Paul Shorter, from Willes­bor­ough, be­gan col­lect­ing do­na­tions for the res­i­dents who lost ev­ery­thing af­ter a blast and fire­ball gut­ted a row of homes in Oak Tree Road, South Ash­ford.

The dev­as­ta­tion on Mon­day, June 15 af­fected nine homes and left 10 peo­ple home­less, but luck­ily no-one was se­ri­ously in­jured.

Days af­ter the blast, Mr Shorter set up the Face­book page Help For Oak Tree Fire Fam­i­lies and is­sued an ap­peal for do­na­tions.

He said: “I set up the page in the hope peo­ple would come to­gether for the fam­i­lies that lost ev­ery­thing in the ex­plo­sion.

“The com­mu­nity re­ally pulled to­gether and we have helped four fire vic­tims with ev­ery­thing from clothes and bed­ding to fur­ni­ture.

“I would like to give a big thank you to Jan and all the staff from Lok ‘n’ Store, also Olivia and her team at Kent Space for their sup­port in sup­ply­ing two won­der­ful stor­age units.

“Another mas­sive thanks to all the peo­ple who helped me run the dis­tri­bu­tion of fur­ni­ture, es­pe­cially He­len Stock­man for all the run­ning around she did in her own car at her own ex­pense.

“Ba­si­cally just a big thank you to the Ash­ford com­mu­nity for their gen­eros­ity, kind­ness and ded­i­ca­tion.

“When there is a dis­as­ter like this we now know Ash­ford can pull to­gether, that’s won­der­ful.”

The ex­act cause of the fire is still un­known and will not be re­vealed un­til the Health and Safety Ex­ec­u­tive (HSE) in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete.

A HSE spokesman said their in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing.

Mean­while, Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil are com­pil­ing a re­port to de­cide the fate of the build­ing and whether it will have to be de­mol­ished.

A coun­cil spokesman said: “A de­mo­li­tion con­trac­tor has been on site un­der­tak­ing fur­ther work to en­sure safe ac­cess can be gained for a full struc­tural sur­vey of the re­main­ing build­ing.

“This sur­vey will en­able us to then de­ter­mine how best to pro­ceed with the work and whether the re­main­ing build­ing can be sal­vaged or whether it has to be de­mol­ished and re­built.”

The fate of the build­ing is ex­pected to be de­cided next month.

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM3875402

Paul Shorter launched the Face­book page Help For Oak Tree Fire Fam­i­lies; de­mo­li­tion be­gin­ning at the scene of the fire in Lit­tle Knoll, Oak Tree Road, Ash­ford

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