December 8 2013 Latest news:
By Matt Hunter
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
A survivor of a huge fire which decimated a row of homes has been found, more than a year-and-a-half after the blaze.
Cocooned away from the heat and flames, Smokey the goldfish was discovered in a pond hidden beneath plastic and plywood.
He is alive and well despite living without food and daylight for more than 19 months.
Builders were preparing to hand over one of the five homes to Tendring District Council, in West Street, Harwich, which were ravaged by fire.
But then after completing reconstruction work they found Smokey.
Barry Eldridge, the council’s senior building surveyor, said it had been thought that all the fish had been removed from the pond following the blaze.
He said: “After the fire in December 2011 our tenant, the fire service and Rose Builders recovered large numbers of Koi Carp from the pond in the back garden.
“The pond was very close to the rear elevation of the property and it was thought that all the fish had been rescued and taken to a new home.
“However, as the work on the house came to an end the contractors were looking to fill-in the pond for safety reasons before it is handed back to us to be re-let to new tenants.”
Mr Eldridge said it was at that point they discovered Smokey, as they have named him, swimming around in the murky water.
He is about 75mm long and seems to have suffered no ill effects.
Paul Honeywood, the council’s cabinet member for Housing, Benefits, Revenues and Sports Facilities said: “We have managed to contact the previous tenant and arrangements will be made to catch Smokey and reunite with his owner and previous pond mates.
“It was quite a surprise for the contractors and extremely fortunate Smokey survived all these months.
“It is great to know that he will be returned to where he belongs and will be looked after by the contractors until that can take place.”
Four of the gutted properties involved in the fire were privately owned with number 32 being part of TDC’s housing stock.