Published: 10:59, 14 September 2020
| Updated: 15:56, 14 September 2020
A family has been left living in a hotel after their home was devastated by a fire - just weeks after they cancelled their contents insurance.
Mum Nikki, 45, was unpacking groceries at her home in Selling, near Faversham , on the afternoon of August 5 when she heard screaming and smoke alarms.
“Outside the kitchen window was just smoke,” she said. “Suddenly my hallway was filling up with smoke.
“I screamed for the children to get out, and rang the fire brigade. All the neighbours were helping me get my pets out, find my cat. They were amazing.”
On the afternoon of August 5, a fire had broken out in a property next door, and had begun to spread to the family’s house.
Nikki, a mum-of-five with four children living at home, says firefighters had to drench the house and make a hole in the roof to stop the fire from taking hold.
After a couple of nights spent staying with friends and sleeping in their car, the family were moved into a hotel in Sittingbourne , where they are still living.
As their home was deemed structurally unsafe following the blaze, Nikki was not able to go back inside to clean up the damage.
“It’s been four weeks and there’s damp and mildew everywhere,” she said.
“Everything’s green and going furry. There’s not a lot of hope of saving anything.
“My children have lost all their belongings. Everything was smoke and water damaged. Everything smells even after three or four washes.”
The tragedy struck at a particularly unfortunate time for Nikki. Just a week before the fire, she had been diagnosed with severe emphysema. As a self-employed cleaner, the lockdown had already been causing financial difficulties.
Unable to take furlough, two customers provided her with an income that just covered the family’s food and rent.
In the midst of this hardship, she cancelled her contents insurance and froze her credit card payments just weeks before the fire struck.
“I had nothing,” she said. “And that’s what you do to get through.
“After renting privately and paying insurance for 20 years, this is the only time I hadn’t got it. It’s quite scary really.”
She is unfortunately not able to claim on her neighbour's insurance.
Two of Nikki’s children also have autism spectrum disorders, and she says they have found it particularly hard to come to terms with the upheaval caused by the fire.
“It’s been a struggle,” she said.
The family has now been offered temporary housing in Sittingbourne , but do not yet know when they will be able to move.
Touched by their plight, family friend Keely Jayes has set up a fundraiser, in hope of raising £1,000 so they can replace some of their lost items.
The Gofundme page has so far raised just over £350.
“Nikki was devastated to see the extent of the damage to her belongings,” said Keely.
“Carpets, sofas, clothes and all fabrics are still wet.
“This devastating event has impacted Nikki and her family emotionally and obviously financially. Any help is gratefully received.”
To donate, visit the fundraising page .