Man homeless after boat fire

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A man who spent 15 years building his houseboat does not know where he will live after it caught fire and everything on board was destroyed.

Peter Demkiw (50) left his “pride and joy” in King’s Dyke, Whittlesey, while he visited friends.

Then came a phone call last Thursday to give him the bad news that his beloved boat had gone up in flames in the early hours.

The boat was named after Peter’s mother, Cicely Mary Demkiw, and contained the last photo he had of her.

Peter, a former social worker who went to the then Stanground Comprehensive, is temporarily staying with a friend and is down to his last remaining change of clothes.

He said: “I spent 15 years building and living on the boat.

The burnt out boat

The burnt out boat

“It meant everything to me. It was my pride and joy and my link to my mother.

“That boat was my family’s legacy. I’m the only survivor. It was more than a boat.

“Not for half-an-hour have I regretted having it. It’s a beautiful boat. I like being on the water and having the wildlife around.”

In a further blow Peter fear s he will be given a bill for thousands of pounds from the authority the Middle Level Commissioners which organised for the sunken boat to be towed to its base in March.

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Chief executive Iain Smith, said the organisation had to step in and move the badly damaged boat as Peter had not done so and it was blocking navigation on the river.

He added: “If we cannot get our costs back from selling the boat we’re entitled to sue him for the balance.”

A Facebook page called ‘Peters Fire Fund Auction Sale’ has now been set up to help buy back the boat and get it cleaned up before beginning repairs.

A Cambridgeshire police spokeswoman said: “A police investigation is underway. No arrests have been made at present.” Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.