The friend of a mum of eight who lost all her possessions in a house fire has thanked the public for all their offers of support, but says more help is still needed.
A “shocked” Mandi Rennie and three of her children were in Brynmore, Bretton yesterday afternoon (Thursday, April 14) at 5.15pm when the fire gutted her property, forcing the kids to escape in their school uniforms, including the youngest who had no shoes on.
Despite the efforts of around 30 firefighters to tackle the blaze, the family lost all of their possessions, including a bed which is 140-years-old, although nobody was hurt.
Their hamster and three dogs also managed to escape, although one of the dogs was rescued from the burning property after hiding in a kitchen cupboard.
The family have now split up to stay with friends and relatives as they look to overcome the horrible ordeal.
Mandi’s friend Sara Rourke, who like Mandi is a trustee at Family Voice Peterborough, said offers of clothes for the children have already come in through social media, but she said more is needed to help them through this difficult time.
Sara said: “All the offers of support are unexpected. I’ve been inundated this morning on Facebook, Twitter and with phone calls. It’s just coming from all over.
“Parents carer forums across the county are also offering to send us stuff. It just shows the love out there for Mandi.
“They lost everything - all the kids’ toys. It’s more memories than anything else and paperwork.
“And she gave birth to two of her children in the house.
“We’ve had offers of clothing for the children, but they need food, pet food and toiletries, and clothing for Mandi as well.
“I’ve known Mandi for quite a few years. She’s like a sister to me. It’s a shock but we rally around. It’s our turn to give back to her.
“She’s helped us all through our difficult times, she cares for her family, and it’s time to help her.”
Sara said the “shock is just setting in” for Mandi (a grandmother of eight) who spent last night with her youngest son (8) at the home of one of her daughters.
Her 15-year-old son stayed with a friend while her 12-year-old daughter stayed with one of her older sisters.
Sara added: “They are grateful they got out and no one was hurt. The eight-year-old was in his PE kit with shorts and t-shirts and no shoes.
“They had no coats on and they were all in school uniform.”
People can donate by ringing Sara on 07957613132, the Family Voice office on 01733 685510, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
They can also donate at Eyrescroft Primary School in Eyrescroft, Bretton, Marshfields School in Eastern Close, Dogsthorpe, and Peteborough Family Voice in Paynels, Orton Goldhay.
Donations can be made before the schools shut today or from Monday at 9am.
It is believed the fire started accidentally when a lit incense stick fell into a basket. Station Commander Lynn Betteridge, the officer in charge of the incident, said: “This fire shows the very serious consequences anything with a naked flame can have if safety measures are not put in place. Candles and incense sticks or cones can create a homely atmosphere but need to be used with great care. Always use a heat resistant holder or plate, keep away from draughts and never leave unattended.”
Crews from Dogsthorpe and Stanground were first sent to the well developed fire in the three storey house.
They immediately requested further support and the Peterborough Volunteers, Whittlesey and Huntingdon crews were sent, soon followed by Market Deeping and Crowland from Lincolnshire, when the fire spread to the adjoining house’s roof.
Lynn added: “This was a challenging fire for us to tackle due to limited access to the property and a large amount of combustible material inside the house. Sadly all floors of the house have been severely damaged by the fire, but firefighters did well to prevent the fire spreading further than the roof in the neighbouring house.
“The Red Cross victim support vehicle attended to support the family who luckily all managed to get out of the house after the fire started.”