Firefighters spent a few hours putting out the blaze in a first-floor, two bedroom flat in Stoke Abbott Road, Worthing, on Wednesday afternoon (July 15).
Eloisa Dela Cruz, who lived there with her husband and two sons, said she felt ‘surprised and overwhelmed’ her manager Paulina Proszkiewicz had set up the JustGiving page online, which raised £4,000 within a few days of being set up.
She said: “I can’t find the words to express how happy and grateful I am.”
Eloisa said her eldest son, 17, was at home when the fire broke out in the boys’ bedroom and he raised the alarm at around 12pm. Eloisa said: “He was crying over the phone – I thought he was making a prank.
“The next minute, the voice was a fireman telling me my son was safe and they were trying to get the fire under control. I ran straight home.”
When she arrived, three fire engines were tackling the blaze and police had closed the road. Eventually the officers let her past to be with her son, who was still in tears.
Apart from minor burns to his hands, no-one in the block was hurt. Crews left at 5pm.
Eloisa said: “After the fire was out, I saw what the damage was like. It is devastating really. Everything that we worked hard for was gone in one snap.”
The fire service said five square metres was damaged by fire, which was thought to have been caused by a candle. This included all the boys’ clothes and possessions; but the smoke had wrecked most of the family’s belongings and they did not have contents insurance. Eloisa said: “It is a lesson learned. If anybody does not have it, they need to be aware.”
But thanks to her boss at the Progress Housing disability care home in Nursery Lane, Worthing, and the kindness of local people, the family have a way to begin rebuilding their lives.