Potters Bar mother and son escape flat fire but are left homeless

A single mother and son from Potters Bar escaped a sudden flat fire last Friday with no shoes on and nowhere to go. 

A single mother and son from Potters Bar escaped a sudden flat fire last Friday with no shoes on and nowhere to go. - Credit: Samantha Wright

A single mother and son who escaped a sudden fire at their Potters Bar flat have been left without a home.

Sarah Chaka smelt smoke in her Bornedene flat while she was cooking during a playdate for her four year old son Japheth. 

When she went to check on the smell the smoke alarm went off and she discovered a fire had caught hold in her bedroom on her fur coat.  

Sarah immediately took the two children out of the house and went back in to extinguish the blaze, using water she was preparing to cook and a blanket, but to no avail.

She saw a fire in her bedroom on her fur coat.

Sarah went to check on the smell while the children kept running around and playing and the smoke alarm went off. She saw a fire in her bedroom on her fur coat. - Credit: Sarah Chaka

“Not even ten seconds later, the fire caught on my bed and mattress and spread everywhere and I couldn’t do anything,” Sarah said. 

In a panic, Sarah forgot what emergency number to dial so she went outside her flat and screamed for help. The fire brigade arrived within three minutes but by this time everything had been completely destroyed. 

No official cause of fire has been released but according to Sarah, it might have been a glass jar with essential oils and a candle in it. 

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“I know my son, I trained him not to touch my stuff. I trained him very well about the dangers of fire but you can’t say with a four-year-old and I can’t be one hundred per cent sure. My guess is that his friend, who is also four years old took it out and they played with it,” Sarah said. 

Sarah and Japheth stayed at a hotel in Barnet over the weekend but had to leave on Monday. They have currently been placed into emergency accommodation by Enfield council in a studio flat with external toilet. 

“I have no idea where to go. I am devastated and scared. For me, my son is the first priority and he needs to come back to the area because he is special needs and requires speech therapy and receives help from his nursery. 

“I have no idea where to go. I am devastated and scared. For me, my son is the first priority," Sarah said.

“I have no idea where to go. I am devastated and scared. For me, my son is the first priority," Sarah said. - Credit: Sarah Chaka

"I am a survivor of domestic abuse and came to this area to save me and my son and this is too much. I don’t know what is going to happen to me. 

"Three years ago, I tried to run away from my husband and I got this place and I was safe and happy. My son had a home and school and everything was OK again but now everything has gone away.” 

Sarah said the thought of losing Japheth or his friend has left her in shock: “He is fine now but he is confused. He has had nightmares and while he sleeps, he cries, jumps and shouts but last night he had a good night's sleep. He continues to ask for his iPad and books but all of it was lost in the fire."

“I had so many issues with my husband when were married and I tried to survive and not break the marriage, but I continued to have miscarriages because of the physical and sexual abuse and finally my son survived despite it.  

She said she fled her marriage while pregnant with Japheth following physical abuse which resulted in several miscarriages: "I did not want to lose this one so I ran away and stayed in a refuge centre for six months and then went through counselling and found this flat. I got better and tried to become a nurse and study to start a new life for my son and to be a good example for him, but as soon as everything was OK, this happened.

No official cause of fire has been released.

No official cause of fire has been released but according to Sarah, it might have been a glass jar with essential oil and a candle in it. - Credit: Samantha Wright

"I don’t know where to start again. I don’t know how to survive and keep going when it’s so hard. But the big positive to keep moving forward is my son is OK. He didn’t get burnt. He didn’t die," she added.

Sarah’s friend and neighbour, Samantha Wright, has set up a GoFundMe page to support them: to donate go to: https://tinyurl.com/59b6xrb9