A desperate mum has told how her three children have been left with “nothing but the clothes on their backs” after a tinderbox blaze destroyed their home.
Claire Taylor, 40, and husband Antony, also 40, have been left homeless after fire sparked by the 40C heatwave ravaged their country cottage.
They are among hundreds of people left homeless after devastating fires swept across the UK and caused carnage for families.
Claire’s three children, Charlie, eight, and Alfie, six, were at school and 20-month-old Louie was at her parents’ home as business owner Antony tried to gather trinkets when the fire tore through the village of Wennington, east London.
And today Claire told how Antony desperately tried to help neighbours get their pets to safety before the raging inferno torched the home where they have lived for five years.
Claire, who works at the nearby Lakeside Shopping Centre, said: “Antony managed to grab a few photos and things but we literally have nothing left.
“I was at work and my husband called and said there was a fire opposite our house.
“But then before he knew it the fire was in our garden and he had to grab what he could.
“Eventually the firefighters were ordering him to leave. He went back to look at the house yesterday and there’s nothing there. It’s completely gone, it’s just a shell.”
Claire – whose employers KidEco are asking for donations for those affected by the fire – is now living at her parents’ home in Dagenham but has been left with nothing after their brick farmhouse was destroyed by the blaze along with 18 other families in the village.
She said: “Antony grabbed a few photos from the front room. That’s all we have, pretty much everything we had was destroyed.
“The kids had their last day of school yesterday and they had nothing.
“Literally all we had was the clothes on our backs. Our entire life was gone in a matter of minutes.”
More than 100 firefighters spent up to 12 hours tackling the blaze on The Green, with around 400 hectares of grassland, farm buildings and garages affected.
It’s thought that up to 63 homes were destroyed as wildfires ravaged the UK in Tuesday’s blistering heat. Areas of London, South Yorkshire and Norfolk were all hit by fires.
Yesterday it emerged the BBC Springwatch nature reserve in Norfolk, which is just three miles from the Queen’s Royal Sandringham Estate, has been destroyed in a fire.
More than 80 acres of wildlife habitat and green space was damaged in the fire around Wild Ken Hill, near Snettisham.
Officials said “a significant amount” of wildlife had perished, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.
Conservationists were yesterday assessing the damage at the reserve, which caught fire late Tuesday morning as Britain saw its hottest day on record, with Springwatch’s Chris Packham saying: “We’ve got to learn from this.”
Claire added: “On Tuesday we lost everything we own to the devastating fire in Wennington.
“We are lucky to have a great network around us to help but there are so many other families around us that may not be able to say the same today.
“At the end of the day it’s just stuff we lost. Some was sentimental but it’s just stuff and stuff can be replaced. The main thing is we are all OK.
“The thing I have noticed is the effect it’s having on the kids. They are upset they have lost their toys and favourite teddy’s.
“I know with the current climate many people are struggling with money themselves but I am just asking if you have any spare clothes for children or even a toy that you could possibly spare for all the other affected families I know we can make what should be a great start to the summer holidays a bit easier for all the kiddies and their families.
“I work at KidEco at Lakeside Shopping Centre and the Baby Bank HQ and I want to get help for as many people as I can.
“If you have anything at all it will be greatly appreciated at this time.
“Please drop anything you can spare to the KidEco shop at Lakeside. Or contact the Baby Bank as we have other collection points that may be available.”