House fire victim 'very humble' as community support rolls in
- Credit: Archant
After a house fire tore through Andy Miley's Shotley home on Valentine's Day, donations and support from the community have kept him smiling.
It was a normal day for Mr Miley, 42, who walked his puppies and went to work at around 6.45am on Monday morning.
But a phone call from his neighbour a few hours later brought devastating news that his house was on fire and he rushed home to see what could be done.
He said: "The firemen were very supportive.
"Once they'd put the fire out, they took me in and explained to me what had happened.
"One of the pups had jumped up onto the cooker and hit one of the knobs on the cooker. I had food up there.
"That then escalated into a fire.
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"It's gone right through the kitchen and diner but luckily enough I kept one of the doors shut into the living room which saved the rest of the house.
"I went to my sister's and stayed on the sofa that night but I couldn't rest, so I went back to the house and started clearing it all.
"Yesterday I was there working with a very close friend of mine who dropped everything else he had to do to help.
"We've stripped all of the kitchen units out, got it all back to brickwork, so it's all ready now for all the rewiring and work to make it watertight.
"It's as much as I can do so far.
"Sadly, when my wife and I broke up last year, I thought she was still paying the house insurance but it's no longer valid.
"I can't blame her, it's just one of these things, but the situation is I've got to do everything myself."
But the father-of-three's reputation as someone who helps out his local community wherever he can - running marathons for charity and always offering meals to families in need - has meant that this tragedy has prompted a wave of support in return.
Nikita Bones, who set up an online fundraiser to cover some of the costs of the damage, said: "I'm a friend of Andy's and wanted to set this up to help him when the time comes to rebuild.
"Andy regularly cooks food for the community so I wanted to give some help back when it's badly needed."
On the outpouring of support, Mr Miley said: "I always say it's nice to give something back. It doesn't cost anything.
"I live on my own and if I'm doing a roast dinner or something, I can't cook for one, so it's always nice to say if anyone needs a little bit they're more than welcome.
"I don't like to ask for help but sometimes you have to do that.
"I'm very humble at the moment, there's so many kind people out there. Words can't express how I'm feeling.
"You think you're on your own but then all of a sudden people rally round and help out and give a reason to keep smiling.
"I can't thank my friends and neighbours enough; Nikita with the fundraiser, a neighbour brought me a generator to use.
"Even work have said they'll get me a toaster or something, to help me get by."
The rebuild will take time, with much of the downstairs of the house rendered unusable by the damage, but it's a process that Mr Miley is ready to take on, despite the difficulties.
An electrician has done enough to make sure that there's a little bit of light and facilities to make a cup of tea - and the dogs weren't hurt in the fire.
"As long as no one got hurt. It might take years to put the house back together but that's something I can mainly do myself.
"No one got hurt, that's the main thing - everything else can be replaced."