'I still don't think it's real': Suffolk woman on losing home and cat in fire

Cath Clark and her children Sophie and Alexander are in emergency housing after a fire at their Red Lodge home

Cath Clark and her children Sophie and Alexander are in emergency housing after a fire at their Red Lodge home - Credit: Cath Clark

A mother who has lost her home and a pet cat in a fire just three years after her partner died in a motorcycle accident is "touched" by the support pouring in.

Cath Clark, 49, and her children Sophie, 13, and Alexander, 16, are being housed in hotels following the fire at their housing association home in White Mullein Drive, Red Lodge, in the early hours of February 28.

Cath Clark and her children Sophie and Alexander are in emergency accommodation 

Cath Clark and her children Sophie and Alexander are in emergency accommodation - Credit: Cath Clark

Cath said fire alarms saved the lives of her and her son, while her daughter climbed out of her bedroom window to escape. 

Two of the family's cats were rescued by firefighters, but their Ragdoll cat Teddy died.

Cath Clark's Ragdoll cat Teddy that died in the fire on February 28

Cath Clark's Ragdoll cat Teddy that died in the fire on February 28 - Credit: Cath Clark

Cath is not yet sure what is salvageable from the property, but she is desperately hoping she can retrieve photos and mementoes relating to her late partner Jamie Carter, who died in a road traffic collision in June 2019. 

Cath, who works as an admin assistant in the civil service, had been riding just behind him, but by the time she got to him he was already dead.

Cath Clark and her partner Jamie Carter, who died in a road accident in June 2019

Cath Clark and her partner Jamie Carter, who died in a road accident in June 2019 - Credit: Cath Clark

Following the fire, her friend Claire O'Neill has launched a fundraising page to help replace possessions like clothes as they didn't have contents insurance.

The target has already been increased to £2,000 following an "amazing" amount of support.

Cath Clark and her daughter Sophie

Cath Clark and her daughter Sophie - Credit: Cath Clark

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Speaking about the impact of the fire, Cath said: "At the moment I still don't think it's real. 

"My friends, family, the community, Mildenhall College Academy – all have been totally amazing.

"I'm very touched and humbled (with added tears) for all the support and help that has been offered!

"At the time of the fire, all I could think was to get my children safe. But we couldn't find my daughter Sophie – not knowing at the start she'd panicked and left via her window."

Cath is hoping she can salvage sentimental items from the property, like pictures of her late partner 

Cath is hoping she can salvage sentimental items from the property, like pictures of her late partner - Credit: Cath Clark

She added: "Thank God for the fire alarms! They definitely saved myself and Alexander. We had no idea when the alarms woke us that there was even a fire."

The fire is understood to have started in an upstairs room. 

The family's cats, Asher and Rosie, were taken to emergency vets on the morning of the fire and are said to be "very traumatised". 

The upstairs of the Red Lodge property has been severely damaged in the fire

The upstairs of the Red Lodge property has been severely damaged in the fire - Credit: Cath Clark

Mildenhall College Academy has kitted Sophie out with a new uniform and has been sending food bags home with her, while her teachers have been giving her toiletries.

Cath said Samphire Homes, which manages the property, had also been "amazing".

"Honestly, I'm totally overwhelmed," Cath said. "I'm so lucky to have had the support from everyone."

The fire happened in the early hours of February 28

The fire happened in the early hours of February 28 - Credit: Cath Clark

Claire, 38, a higher-level teaching assistant, said: "We are just so grateful for everybody's kind donations, especially in the tricky situation everyone faces at the moment. It doesn't matter whether it's £1 or £100, everything helps." 

She added: "Everybody has been amazing. The community has really pulled together and offered all sorts of things. At the moment we haven't got any storage."

Marie-Claire Delbrouque, managing director of Samphire Homes, said: "We understand this is a really difficult time for Catherine and her family.

"We’ve provided them with a safe place to stay and due to the extent of the damage, we will work with Catherine to find a longer-term solution for her family. We’ve also signposted her to charities which will be able to help replace their belongings.

"The fire service has carried out an investigation into the incident.”

  • To donate to Claire's appeal visit the GoFundMe page. 
  • If anyone can help with storage for items for Cath and her family, contact Claire on 07947 489512.