Search

'Life is hanging by a thread' says flat fire victim after losing all possessions

PUBLISHED: 20:47 16 January 2019 | UPDATED: 20:52 16 January 2019

Lee Courtney was on holiday while his flat was destroyed by a suspected arson attack  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Lee Courtney was on holiday while his flat was destroyed by a suspected arson attack Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Archant

A Colchester man has described the "unimaginable damage" to his home after returning from a tropical holiday to the scene of a devastating flat fire.

Lee Courtney had flown from the Philippines on January 8 and arrived home in Golden Noble Hill to discover it gutted by fire and smoke after a suspected arson attack in his neighbour’s flat.

Firefighters had spent six hours tackling the blazing block of flats in Golden Noble Hill, Colchester, on January 5.

The house could be seen ablaze from neighbouring properties. Picture: AJ ELIZABETHThe house could be seen ablaze from neighbouring properties. Picture: AJ ELIZABETH

Mr Courtney, 50, said: “The damage is unimaginable - my clothes are smoke damaged, there was a Persian rug in there from my mother that’s ruined, my kitchen counters have melted - almost everything is gone.

“I had just gotten back from a holiday with a friend in the Philippines and had no idea anything had happened until I got to Colchester.

The roof of the property and the interior is black with smoke damage Picture: RACHEL EDGEThe roof of the property and the interior is black with smoke damage Picture: RACHEL EDGE

“I pulled up and saw the state of it, went to the back of the building and the whole roof was gone.

“There was a full-on, 1,000-degree fire next to my wall.

the remains of the burned roof litter the ground around the flat  Picture: RACHEL EDGEthe remains of the burned roof litter the ground around the flat Picture: RACHEL EDGE

“If everyone in that block had all been at home, three or four people could have died - It’s made me realise home much life is hanging by a thread.”

Following the fire, Essex Police arrested a 34-year-old man on suspicion of arson and endangering life.

Mr Courtney has reclaimed everything he can from his burned-out home, but almost everything was smoke-damaged Picture: RACHEL EDGEMr Courtney has reclaimed everything he can from his burned-out home, but almost everything was smoke-damaged Picture: RACHEL EDGE

He was released on bail until January 28.

Mr Courtney’s health and ability to work has been affected by the stress of his circumstances and the neighbours he has spoken to are also struggling to cope with the tragedy of losing their homes.

A police investigation into the fire is ongoing  Picture: RACHEL EDGEA police investigation into the fire is ongoing Picture: RACHEL EDGE

He added: “It’s like having your right arm chopped off - I’ve lost my home of 13 years.

“It’s really lovely that people have reached into their own pockets to help - I’d love to see however much we can raise split between everyone affected.

“I’m so grateful the council have supported me and managed to move me into a new place.”

The council says it is doing all it can to support the victims of the fire and the community.

Head of housing management at Colchester Borough Homes, Karen Williams, said: “We understand what a difficult time this has been for the families involved and we have offered to put anyone affected by the fire in touch with support or counselling services.

“We are rehousing three households while repairs works are undertaken in their homes.

“A letter has been hand-delivered to all the residents of Attlee Gardens to provide them with an update of what they can expect the next steps to be in the coming weeks.”

Most Read

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Most Read

Latest from the East Anglian Daily Times

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists