Pregnant Newhaven woman who has Covid-19 left homeless after fire destroys home on Christmas Day

A pregnant Newhaven woman who contracted coronavirus has been left homeless after a fire destroyed her home on Christmas Day.

Thursday, 31st December 2020, 4:35 pm
Updated Monday, 4th January 2021, 11:43 am

Keira Sanded, 31, of Hanson Road, Newhaven, faces months in temporary housing following the devastating blaze which ripped through her kitchen.

Her partner, Wayne Barrett, 31, who was also unwell at the time, took food out of the oven and fell asleep before Keira woke to a ‘crackling sound’ and ‘gushes of black smoke’.

Keira, who is pregnant with her third child, had tested positive for Covid-19 just days before and was self-isolating at her home with Wayne.

Keira Sanded with her partner, Wayne Barrett, and her destroyed kitchen

This meant she had to spend the festive period away from her two children, Cayden Taylor, 11, and Miley Taylor, nine, who are currently staying with their father.

Keira was also made redundant from her job as a Virgin Atlantic stewardess in September after 13 years in the job – and her dad tragically died from coronavirus the following week.

She told the Express: “I can’t even put it into words – it has been one thing after another.

“I am just very grateful for my life and that we woke up and our baby girl is fine.

Keira Sanded with her partner, Wayne Barrett, and Keira's two children, Cayden and Miley Taylor

“If I had been asleep ten minutes longer it could have been a lot different.”

Keira, who is 21 weeks pregnant, said due to her and Wayne being unwell and not being able to be with her children, Christmas was effectively cancelled.

But the couple decided they ought to still eat and had a joint of beef in the fridge.

“I was completely incapacitated so Wayne took over the cooking,” said Keira.

The fire ripped through the kitchen

“We got to about 2.45pm and I was very drowsy. Wayne was falling asleep too.

“He got the meat out of the oven and put it on the side and we both fell asleep.

“I woke up when I heard a crackling sound and saw gushes of black smoke.

“Wayne jumped up and went into the kitchen to have a look and there was a tiny fire by the oven.

Keira Sanded was a Virgin Atlantic stewardess for 13 years

“He went and soaked some blankets in water to put over the fire but oxygen got hold of the flames and the fire just grew in seconds – all up the walls.”

Keira said the fire service told her it might be weeks before anyone could enter her home and months before it could be lived in again.

She said she called the council about her situation but due to it being the Christmas Bank Holiday weekend, she was told nothing could be arranged for her until the council offices reopened on Tuesday (December 29).

She said: “Bed and Breakfasts wouldn’t accept us because I had covid.

“We were booked into a Premier Inn but then were told we couldn’t stay there either because of covid and coming from a tier 4 area.

“We had to go and stay at my mum’s – we had no choice – and my mum was already isolating after taking me to hospital for one night.

The fire ripped through the kitchen

“I was just shocked that the council’s emergency team didn’t have anything in place for something like this – I felt awful.”

Keira said she received a call from Lewes District Council on Tuesday (December 29), which told her it had found her a two-bedroom property in Seaford, but she and Wayne will have to pay around £1,700 a month for the temporary accommodation, compared to the £430 she was paying for her home previously.

“My goal is to get back home,” said Keira.

“It was my first home with my children. We were in there for three years – I cherished it and made it a proper family home – I was very proud and it meant a lot to me.

“Going back to normality here in Seaford is going to be very tough – my son goes to school in Newhaven which was a stone’s throw away before and my daughter’s goes to school in Peacehaven.”

Keira is now looking forward to seeing her children again, with her isolation period ending this Saturday (January 2).

“I haven’t seen my little girl for three weeks – she has never in her life been away for me for that long.

“She has been sending me messages counting down the days until we can see each other again.”

She warned people of Covid-19: “It is a really strong virus and it is important people are careful.

“At the start I couldn’t do anything, I was so out of breath – it was scary.”

Keira said the support from the Newhaven community has been ‘overwhelming’.

Her sister, Jasmin, set up a GoFundMe page which has already exceeded its target of raising £1,000.

Residents and businesses have also donated items to help Keira and her family.

Keira said: “We are so grateful to the community – I find it very difficult taking money from people – I cherish every person who has helped us.

“Strangers have sent me such kind messages which has boosted my morale.

“I am just overwhelmed by the kind spirit of our community.”

A spokesman for Lewes District Council said: “We sympathise greatly with the most difficult and challenging position Ms Sanded, her family and her partner have found themselves in.

“Most importantly, no one was hurt in the fire and our team will be liaising with the fire service to assess the damage to the property.

“The two-bedroom flat that we found for Ms Sanded was the only available property our officers could find in the circumstances, a search that was obviously complicated by her positive Covid-19 test.

“The flat is the same size as Ms Sanded’s existing two bedroom property.

“Ms Sanded will have to pay rent because her partner is in full-time employment. However, our team have also provided details of how Ms Sanded can apply for an emergency grant to assist with purchasing essential items.

“We are in regular contact with Ms Sanded to ensure she has what she needs and have provided her with details of local support agencies.

“She has also been given advice in relation to transferring or exchanging from her current two-bedroom property.

“Ms Sanded has now advised us that she has received numerous offers of furniture and donations of over £1,000, so is able to buy the items she needs herself.

“We are looking into the issues that Ms Sanded has raised regarding the out of hours service and will respond to her directly on this as soon as possible.”

An East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service said: “We were called at 15.18 on Christmas Day to reports of a fire at a property on Hanson Road in Newhaven.

“There was a small fire in a kitchen.

“Crews used two breathing apparatus and a hose reel to put it out, before damping down and cutting out to ensure the fire was out.

“A PPV fan was used to clear the smoke.

“An ambulance was requested for one person who was thought to be suffering from smoke inhalation, and who was given oxygen by firefighters.

“This was clearly a very distressing incident and sadly this shows just how much of an impact a fire can have. We hope that they are able to return to their home as soon as possible.

“If you’d like to find out more about fire safety for yourself or someone you know, we can offer our home safety checks which are carried out over the phone. We can also provide free smoke alarms and specialist equipment in many cases.

“Get in touch on 0800 177 7069 or online: https://www.esfrs.org/your-safety/home-safety-visits.”

Keira's two children, Cayden and Miley