Burnt out of our home

crash­ing out after fi­nally get­ting her triplets to sleep, Sneha Dave, 30, from Har­row, never imag­ined the hor­ror she’d wake up to…

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

By the time my hus­band Bri­jesh, 31, and I got our three lit­tle ones off to sleep, it was 2am.

‘Well, I’m not go­ing to have any trou­ble nod­ding off,’ I yawned.

A mum to 9-month-old triplets, it’s fair to say I was of­ten shat­tered.

Still, we had two ex­tra pairs of hands on deck that week.

It was last May, and Bri­jesh’s mum Kusum, 59, and dad Naren­dra, 63, were vis­it­ing from In­dia. They were be­sot­ted with their grand­chil­dren – girls Rishva and Rutvi and our boy Rithaan – giv­ing me a wel­come rest from non-stop child­care.

Kusum and Naren­dra were sleep­ing down­stairs, and we’d put the triplets in cots in our bed­room – eas­ier than hav­ing them in their own room.

Bri­jesh and I were out for the count within se­conds…

Only, at 4am, I awoke with a shock­ing jolt.

The smoke alarm was scream­ing, and from down­stairs I could hear my in-laws call­ing up to us.

‘Wake up, some­thing’s hap­pen­ing!’ they shouted.

Heart rac­ing wildly, I shook Bri­jesh awake.

‘The smoke alarm is go­ing off, and your par­ents are yelling!’ I said. ‘Can you go down and see what’s go­ing on?’

Bri­jesh raced down­stairs, the bed­room door slam­ming be­hind him. Mean­while, I clam­bered out of bed to check on the triplets, who were wak­ing up. ‘It’s OK,’ I said, calm­ing them. But then I smelt it. Smoke…

It was bil­low­ing un­der the bed­room door.

Ter­ri­fied, I let out a scream. There re­ally was a fire! Open­ing the bed­room door, a wall of heat and smoke hit me.

The nurs­ery, next door to our room, was on fire. ‘Bri­jesh! Help us!’ I screamed.

I heard his voice come through the smoke. ‘Get back in the bed­room!’ he yelled, fran­tic. ‘Shut the door!’ The ba­bies were scream­ing, the room fill­ing with smoke. I whim­pered with ter­ror as I ran to the bed­room win­dow.

‘Come on!’ I shouted, as I tried des­per­ately to open it.

But, de­spite not be­ing locked, it was stuck fast.

Mo­ments later, Bri­jesh rushed back into the room, grabbed one of the ba­bies and ran back out.

At the top of the stairs, he threw the littl’un to its dad, who was wait­ing be­low.

Then he raced back into the bed­room where I was clutch­ing the other two in ter­ror.

‘What’s hap­pen­ing? Are we go­ing to be OK?’ I stam­mered.

‘It’s OK,’ he told me. ‘We have to stay calm.’

Bri­jesh then took one of the triplets while I took the other, grabbed my hand tightly and guided us out of the room.

Cover­ing the ba­bies’ mouths with the blan­kets I’d wrapped them in, we strug­gled to make

We had no in­sur­ance and we were home­less, with triplets to care for

our way across the land­ing, thick smoke mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to see any­thing.

Thank­fully, the stairs hadn’t caught fire yet, and we were able to make our way down.

Luck­ily, our neigh­bours had heard and seen what was hap­pen­ing.

They came to our door, made sure we were safe and took us all into their home, along with Bri­jesh’s fran­tic par­ents.

It was here that I dis­cov­ered what’d hap­pened after Bri­jesh had first rushed down­stairs to see why the smoke alarm had gone off.

‘I saw a fire had be­gun in the cor­ner of the ba­bies’ bed­room,’ he told me. ‘The flames were al­ready knee-high, so I filled a bucket with wa­ter in the bath­room and threw it over the flames, but it was no use.’

Des­per­ate to stop the fire spread­ing, Bri­jesh had been try­ing to pull baby clothes and bed­ding out of the way of the flames, but had burned his right hand badly.

‘Oh, Bri­jesh!’ I gasped. He’d lost all the skin on his palm, which was red and raw.

Four min­utes later, a fire en­gine raced down our road.

We watched as they man­aged to put out the fire be­fore it spread to the ground floor. But the whole top floor of the two-bed house we rented was com­pletely de­stroyed.

Mo­ments later, paramedics ar­rived on the scene.

Bri­jesh, the ba­bies and

I were taken to North­wick Park Hospi­tal for fur­ther tests.

Bri­jesh had suf­fered smoke in­hala­tion, and was taken to the Burns Unit for treat­ment on his hand.

Thank­fully, the ba­bies and I were given the all-clear.

Bri­jesh’s par­ents were fine, but very shaken up.

We called the pri­vate land­lord, ex­plained what’d hap­pened. That first night, he put us up in a bed-and­break­fast but after that, we had nowhere to go.

I went with the ba­bies and my mum-in-law to stay with friends in Wem­b­ley, while Bri­jesh and his dad stayed in a flat above the restau­rant, where Bri­jesh worked as a chef.

We were lucky to have kind peo­ple around us who would help, but it was so dif­fi­cult.

Un­able to stop think­ing about the fire, I was an emo­tional wreck, scared to go to sleep, afraid all the time.

Three days after the fire, we were al­lowed to go back to the house, to try to sal­vage some be­long­ings. So I went with Bri­jesh, leaving the triplets with his par­ents.

Walk­ing through the front door, it hit me how quickly our lives had changed. Within min­utes, ev­ery­thing be­came so dif­fer­ent…

We weren’t al­lowed up­stairs – they said it wasn’t safe. In a way, I was glad. The thought of see­ing my ba­bies’ charred cots and imag­in­ing what could’ve been was too aw­ful to bear. We walked through the ground floor, col­lect­ing our things. We didn’t own most of the fur­ni­ture, but we took what was ours – a rug, TV and sin­gle wardrobe, along with pots, pans and plates from the kitchen, and any of the kids’ toys we found. We had no in­sur­ance, ei­ther. ‘Most of the kids’ stuff was up­stairs. It’s all gone,’ I wept.

We were home­less, with triplets to care for. ‘I know, but at least we’re all safe and un­harmed,’ Bri­jesh said, putting his arm around me. Three days later, we moved into an­other place – the top floor of a maisonette in the same area. It was nice hav­ing a new home, but it was much smaller, harder to man­age with three ba­bies, and carrying the pushchair up and down the stairs was dif­fi­cult. Poor Bri­jesh had to go to the hospi­tal twice a week for the next month to get his dress­ing changed. I’d have to pass our old home on my way to the salon where I work as a beau­ti­cian. See­ing its black­ened win­dows, I’d want to cry. That was the house we’d taken our beloved ba­bies home to.

I could re­mem­ber that day so clearly. We’d been so happy, ex­cited, ready for a new chap­ter.

Now, though, ev­ery­thing felt so bleak.

But, do you know what? Peo­ple were so won­der­ful! We got a lot of sup­port from the char­ity Help­ing Hands, who’d heard about our plight. And, when Bri­jesh went back to work at the restau­rant a month after the fire and his par­ents re­turned to In­dia, Help­ing Hands sent us a nanny, who helped me put the kids into a rou­tine.

It turned out the fire had been caused by an elec­tri­cal fault in the nurs­ery.

I’m just so grate­ful the ba­bies were with us that night, that we had a smoke alarm, and that Bri­jesh acted so fast.

I try not to think about what could’ve hap­pened if they’d been in the room next door – or if my hus­band hadn’t been there that night.

He’s a real hero.

Now we’re all look­ing to the future. And, with three gor­geous, de­mand­ing lit­tle ba­bies bright­en­ing up ev­ery day, I know that things can only get better.

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