Community rallies round to help explosion victims
Appeal organiser salutes town’s response after homes destroyed
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.
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