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Heavily pregnant mum and young family left homeless after devastating fire destroys house

PUBLISHED: 16:43 16 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:22 16 May 2020

The fire in Thomas Benold Walk completely destroyed the family's home. Picture: LEE COOK

The fire in Thomas Benold Walk completely destroyed the family's home. Picture: LEE COOK

LEE COOK

A dad has described the heartbreaking moment his family “watched their lives burn in front of them” after a fire ripped through their house in Colchester leaving them homeless.

Lee Cook with his three children Jaden, Kaci-Mae and Mason, and partner Kate Simpson. Picture: LEE COOKLee Cook with his three children Jaden, Kaci-Mae and Mason, and partner Kate Simpson. Picture: LEE COOK

The devastating fire broke out at the family’s home in Thomas Benold Walk shortly before midnight on Wednesday, May 13, with fire crews spending more than an hour at the scene.

Lee, who describes himself as a car fanatic, was woken by his partner Kate Simpson who had thought she heard a noise, only to realise a few seconds later that their house was on fire.

“Another 30 seconds to a minute and we wouldn’t have come out alive,” admitted Lee, who is self-employed and hasn’t been working due to the lockdown restrictions.

“All I have left is the clothes I was wearing that night.”

The house has been completely destroyed by the fire on Wednesday, May 13 in Colchester.  Picture: LEE COOKThe house has been completely destroyed by the fire on Wednesday, May 13 in Colchester. Picture: LEE COOK

The cause of the fire remains unknown but Lee said he thinks it started in the garden and quickly spread to the house, where his four-year-old daughter Kaci-Mae and eight-year-old son Mason were sleeping.

The four of them, including Kate who is 30 weeks pregnant and currently spends five hours a day in hospital having dialysis to treat kidney failure, managed to escape the fire unharmed.

Speaking of the incident, Lee, 33, said: “It was all over in a split second, the house went up in flames pretty quickly.

“I have worked my whole life for that house and the things in it. Our whole life was in there, but it could have been so much worse and I am so thankful we all made it out alive.”

The fire ripped through the home in Thomas Benold Wal, leaving a family-of-four homeless in Colchester. Picture: LEE COOKThe fire ripped through the home in Thomas Benold Wal, leaving a family-of-four homeless in Colchester. Picture: LEE COOK

Lee says he has been taken back by the support of his local community and the generosity of people at this testing time, especially Peter Dutch who runs a Colchester Facebook group and has helped the family get everything they need.

“Everyone has really rallied around us,” said Lee. “I am absolutely speechless at the generosity people have shown towards us and it really shows that when there is a tragedy like this the community is there for you.”

With the help of an appeal on Facebook, the family are now staying in someone’s three-bedroom-home, which is up for sale, while they get back on their feet.

“There really are some amazing people in Colchester,” said Lee. “I have been wowed by everyone’s kindness.”

Kate Simpson, who is 30 weeks pregnant, and her partner Lee Cook have been devastated by the fire at their home in Colchester. Picture: LEE COOKKate Simpson, who is 30 weeks pregnant, and her partner Lee Cook have been devastated by the fire at their home in Colchester. Picture: LEE COOK

A fundraising page which was set up by Lee’s sister, has brought in more than £3,000 for the young family in the last three days, with hundreds of people donating baby clothes, bedding, and other household items for the family who have nothing but the clothes on their back.

They had recently used their savings to buy some items for the new arrival, but all of these were destroyed in the blaze.

An Essex County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “Firefighters were called to a house fire in Thomas Benold Walk in Colchester at 11.41pm on Wednesday, May 13.

“On arrival, crews confirmed that a terraced house measuring 10m x 10m was 100% smoke logged.

The family only have the clothes they were wearing at the time of the fire, as everything else has been destroyed. Picture: LEE COOKThe family only have the clothes they were wearing at the time of the fire, as everything else has been destroyed. Picture: LEE COOK

“Firefighters extinguished the fire by 1.06am. A family was rendered homeless and the adjoining properties suffered some smoke damage.”


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