Sophie Stevens, 30, her husband Mark, 41, and their two sons Theo, seven, and five-year-old Oscar were not injured in the electrical fire at their home in Bexhill, but if they had woken minutes later the smoke could have proved fatal.

Bexhill family ‘lose everything’ in devastating house fire weeks before Christmas

Parents with two young boys have lost all their possessions in a devastating house fire just weeks before Christmas.

By Alex Watts
Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 10:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 3:26 pm

Sophie Stevens, 30, her husband Mark, 41, and their two sons Theo, seven, and five-year-old Oscar were not injured in the electrical fire, but if they had woken minutes later the smoke could have proved fatal. They lost everything in the blaze. Their three-bedroom, end-terrace house in the Chapel Walk area of Bexhill, and all their belongings are badly smoke damaged, and they have been told they cannot move back in for at least six months. They are now all living in one bedroom at Mark’s parents’ home in Bexhill. Despite their woes Sophie, who works in car insurance for Hastings Direct, has vowed to “make sure it’s the best Christmas” for their boys.

Sophie and Mark, who works as a roofer, woke up when their fire alarms went off at just after midnight on December 1. They could smell smoke and rushed downstairs but could not see any flames. “I turned the light on in the kitchen and noticed some smoke reflecting from the light on the ceiling, and I initially thought it was next door. So I thought, ‘right, there’s smoke I need to get the children out now’,” said Sophie.

They ran back upstairs and carried their two boys outside and rang 999. The fire, in a fridge-freezer in their kitchen, soon “took hold” and the house was filled with choking, black smoke. Firefighters arrived in two fire engines and extinguished the blaze. “The firefighters did say if we were in the house five minutes longer then the smoke would have took hold to us and we would have been knocked out. So we got out just in time,” added Sophie.

She said luckily they are insured, but they have been told they will not be able to move back in “for six months minimum”. She said the damage will cost “thousands of pounds” to fix. “It’s been quite a dramatic few days to be fair to get everything sorted,” said Sophie. “Our kitchen’s taken the brunt of it, our ceilings are damaged, all of our clothes. When the smoke’s from an electrical fire, the smoke is very dangerous and can cause cancer. So everything’s got to be binned, we can’t salvage anything. The fire brigade, when they put the fire out and came to tell us what had happened, said we can’t really keep anything because of how toxic the smoke is. Everything’s black. Our walls are black, our ceilings are black, the carpets are black.”

She added: “It’s okay for the moment, but we need to find somewhere quickly really. We’re all staying in one bedroom at the moment, so it’s not really ideal. I’m just hoping once the (insurance company’s) forensics report back they’ll be able to authorise more of a long term accommodation for us over Christmas. That’s our priority to make sure the kids have the best Christmas under the circumstances.”

Their friends have set up a GoFundme page to help them, and have so far raised over £2,600 - including one anonymous donation of £500. “They feel like their whole world has come crashing down and could really use some help, anything you can donate would be much appreciated. They have have already received huge donations of clothes and shoes which is unbelievable. But anything to get them back on their feet will be great,” said Jemma Groves who set up the page.

A spokesperson for East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service said: “Firefighters used four breathing apparatus and two hose reel jets to extinguish the fire. Two residents were handed over into the care of SECAMB after suffering from smoke inhalation. A fire investigation took place and the cause of the fire was deemed accidental. The fire had emanated from faulty electrics in a kitchen appliance.”

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