Neighbours rally after fire damages Welwyn Garden City couple’s home
PUBLISHED: 13:47 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:04 06 April 2018
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A Welwyn Garden City couple whose house was damaged by a huge fire have thanked their “brilliant” neighbours for rallying around to help them.
St Audreys Green couple Peter and Joy Butcher were left “heartbroken” after a blaze devastated the house next door and damaged theirs on Saturday, March 24.
They were forced to move out and are facing at least two months in alternative accommodation while remedial work takes place at the council house.
However, the pair were left “lost for words” after their friends chipped in and gave them £110 to help.
Peter told the WHT: “All our neighbours have been brilliant, they took us in during the day, comforting and trying to take our minds off all the mayhem.
“Our neighbours even had a collection for us, the community spirit has really shown us that there are a lot of great people in our street.”
On the day of the fire, Peter and Joy came home at 3.30pm to find a raging inferno next door, before firefighters told them it was safe to return at around an hour later.
But at 8.30pm the same day another blaze was spotted in the roof next door and they were once again evacuated.
Police later arrested a 42-year-old man on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life, but he has since been released without charge.
Following the ordeal Peter also said he was unhappy with how the borough council handled the situation – as the couple have been forced to live with his elderly parents for nearly two weeks.
“We do realise it was near to the Easter break, but surely they should have some sort of plan,” he said.
“We do feel we have been really let down. It’s a sad state [of affairs] when parents of 87 and 93 have to let us stay at theirs.”
A council spokesman said it checked whether the pair were happy to stay with friends or family – as that is often the preferred option after such an experience – and also said that temporary accommodation would be ready in just over a week.
He added: “From correspondence received late yesterday [Wednesday, April 4], we know that their stay with family is not working out, but have spoken to them and have arranged for them to stay at a hotel, with their dog, until Monday.”
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