Harwich: Community show support for house fire victims

RESIDENTS in an Essex town have come together to help five families who have been left homeless after a huge fire burnt through a row of terrace houses.

A roof fire spread to four other properties along West Street in Harwich on Wednesday morning, completely devastating all of the buildings.

Around 50 firefighters were in attendance trying to fight the flames which were finally put out later that afternoon.

Crews were still at the site on Thursday, tackling remaining hot spots as some of the residents looked on.

Since the incident, there has been an outpouring of support from members of the local community.

Home Grown Crafts, based in Kingsway, Dovercourt has set-up a base in their shop for people to donate items for the victims.

Owner Katrina Olive said she has been overwhelmed with the public’s response.

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“I’m absolutely amazed by the support shown already - we’re completely full up with items including duvets, towels, toiletries, everything,” she said.

“I’ve even had phone calls from people in Scotland and all over Essex asking how they can help, it’s unbelievable.”

Ms Olive put a sign up in her shop yesterday and sent a request out via her Facebook page asking for donations.

Harwich Rotary Club has now taken over an empty shop in the high street opposite Iceland for people to bring down items or give money as Home Grown Crafts is now full-up.

Ms Olive said they are also looking for people to donate furniture, such as wardrobes and beds and any kitchen ware as they would be storing items for the families until they have moved into new accommodation.

A ‘For Victims of Harwich Town Fire’ Facebook page has also been created and has attracted more than 700 Likes so far.

Jaqueline Broadley and her husband William who lived in one of the houses that burnt down said she and her husband had been amazed at how quickly residents had rallied around to help them.

“I am just shocked how fast people have come forward - they’ve been brilliant,” she said.

“We’ve already been to Home Crafts and got some towels and bedding.

“Tendring District Council has been great as well. They said we would be able to move in to new accommodation in Old Vicarage Road by next week.”

But Mrs Broadley, who lived in West Street with her husband William and son Nigel, said she was still feeling very ‘up and down’ about what has happened.

“When I woke up it felt like it was all a dream. My daughter’s seven months pregnant so it’s really stressing her out.

“We’re all up and down and I’ve had a few tears. My husband’s ever so upset about it.”

Ivan Henderson, councillor for Harwich East Ward which includes West Street, said: “When I arrived here I couldn’t believe my eyes. For someone who has lived here all my life and then to see those old buildings like that, words cannot describe.

“Thankfully nobody was hurt and as usual the people of Harwich are coming together and getting behind the victims.”

Mr Henderson said members of Harwich Town Council would be holding a meeting tonight at the 1912 centre to discuss the situation.