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Fundraising appeal set up after house fire in Luddenham Close, Stanhope

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

An online appeal set up for victims of a house fire in Ashford has exceeded a series of fundraising targets in less than 24 hours.

A JustGiving page was created in the aftermath of a blaze at a property in Luddenham Close, Stanhope yesterday.

Four fire engines were called to the house at about 1am, where an electrical lighting fault in an upstairs bedroom is believed to have caused the flames.

The damaged house (2524430)
The damaged house (2524430)

Two of the residents, a mother and daughter, were outside of the property when the emergency services arrived.

Emma Gainsford, another daughter, set up the page for her family who were affected.

The page reads: "My mum and two sisters lost literally everything they owned in a house fire in Stanhope last night.

"I'm trying to raise a bit of cash so they can get a few personal bits from new like underwear.

"I'm not asking people to donate loads, just a £1 from each generous person willing to donate will soon add up and help them at this devastating time."

Crews putting out the fire in Stanhope on Wednesday morning. Credit: Emma Gainsford (2542810)
Crews putting out the fire in Stanhope on Wednesday morning. Credit: Emma Gainsford (2542810)

The initial target was £200, but more than £600 has now been raised, prompting a new target of £750.

Speaking to KentOnline's sister paper, the Kentish Express, Ms Gainsford said: "I was there while the fire was being put out but not when it started.

"I set up the fundraising page because they lost everything.

"While donations are greatly appreciated, there are some things dignity-wise you wouldn't like even though you appreciate the offer, such as second hand underwear.

"So I thought if I could raise a bit of cash, they could buy these new.

"I never expected to have raised so much in such a short space of time.

"The people of Ashford are truly amazing!

"I honestly can't thank them enough for the kindness and support they have shown my family."

Other residents have set up a Facebook page detailing a number of drop stations for items such as clothes, pet food and toiletries which can be found here.

Ashford Labour leader Brendan Chilton, who is also parish and borough councillor for Stanhope, lives just a few doors down from the fire ravished house.

He expressed his shock: "It was absolutely terrible. The whole street was out.

"The fire service did a brilliant job. The flames were so high they had to evacuate three or four other houses.

"The family had lived there for more than 20 years. Everybody knows them.

"They're such a lovely family as well. They're always the first ones to send Christmas cards."

"They're such a lovely family. They're always the first ones to send Christmas cards." - Brendan Chilton, Stanhope ward councillor

He is encouraging his residents to continue donating spare belongings where they can: "This is a tragic event and as a result, this family have lost everything from a toothbrush to a phone charger."

"The community has really rallied round.

"I think it just shows how generous people are."

Crews used three hose reel jets, two main jets and compressed air foam to extinguish the blaze, which completely destroyed the roof and first floor of the property.

There were fortunately no injuries.

Crews managed to rescue two rabbits and a cat, but sadly one rabbit died.

The Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) Volunteer Response Team was also in attendance, assisting and supporting residents and neighbours whose properties had been affected by the inferno.

Crews left the scene around 4.30am.

To contribute to the JustGiving page, click here.

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