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Ipswich family lose savings and possessions in Stoke Park Drive flat fire drama

PUBLISHED: 20:20 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:29 14 November 2017

Alicia and Samuel Clarke and their children Lillie and Lockie. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Alicia and Samuel Clarke and their children Lillie and Lockie. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A mother has spoken of the terror she and her husband faced when a fire broke out in their Ipswich flat and left them frantically trying to save neighbours oblivious to the danger.

The Clarke family's home in Ipswich's Stoke Park Drive after a fire. Picture: SEANI MOOREThe Clarke family's home in Ipswich's Stoke Park Drive after a fire. Picture: SEANI MOORE

Alicia and Samuel Clarke had just been to view a new property in Saxmundham on the morning of November 8 when they returned to their current flat in Stoke Park Drive to find smoke “pouring” out of their bedroom window.

Mrs Clarke, 23, claims “not a single alarm” sounded, so she and Mr Clarke, 25, ran into the building, owned and run by Sanctuary Housing, and started knocking on as many doors as possible to warn residents until the fire brigade arrived.

Luckily, no-one was seriously injured and the couple’s children, Lillie, three, and three-month-old Lockie, were not with them at the time.

Mr and Mrs Clarke had nearly £1,800 stashed under their bed which they were saving to decorate their new home, but the cash, along with most of their possessions and some Christmas presents they had bought early, were destroyed in the blaze.

The Clarke family's home in Ipswich's Stoke Park Drive after a fire. Picture: SEANI MOOREThe Clarke family's home in Ipswich's Stoke Park Drive after a fire. Picture: SEANI MOORE

“It was a horrible sinking feeling to know that smoke was coming from a block of flats and from our bedroom window,” Mrs Clarke said. “It was awful. You never imagine this will happen to you.

“I had things [in the flat] that belonged to my granny who has died; my son and daughter’s scan pictures – little things that I won’t get back. Things like that can’t be replaced.”

The family’s pet gecko, Amaura, was killed in the fire and Mrs Clarke said this “broke my heart”.

It is understood fire alarms are not provided in the communal areas of the three-storey building and when a flat alarm goes off it does not automatically trigger others unless they also detect smoke.

Alicia and Samuel Clarke, whose possessions have been destroyed in a fire. Picture: GREGG BROWNAlicia and Samuel Clarke, whose possessions have been destroyed in a fire. Picture: GREGG BROWN

John Hanson, head of housing at Sanctuary Housing, said: “This is a terrible tragedy. We offer our deepest sympathies to the family and are providing as much support as possible.

“We have arranged temporary accommodation at a local hotel and we are working with the family to move them into a new home at the earliest opportunity.

“We cannot make any comment in relation to the potential cause of the fire, which will be determined by investigations that are already underway.”

A spokesman for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said an investigation into the cause of the fire was ongoing.

A family friend has started a fundraising appeal for them, which has collected more than £500.

Mrs Clarke said: “I was amazed by the support from everyone. People I don’t even know saying ‘I’m so sorry’. It’s nice that the community are coming together.”

The family are staying in a hotel and hope to move into their new home in Saxmundham, not provided by Sanctuary, as a soon as possible.

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