Flat blaze victims '˜overwhelmed' as community raises thousands

An art gallery owner and his flatmates whose home was destroyed in a huge fire felt '˜overwhelmed' as our community raised thousands of pounds for them to get back on their feet.

Wednesday, 24th May 2017, 1:08 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:51 pm
Fire victim Kevin Hough. Inset: the blaze in Rowlands Road, Worthing, and Leanne Casey with her pet parrot Cyril, that she saved from the fire. Pictures: Eddie Mitchell, Derek Martin

For Kevin Hough, known as Kev, Saturday began like any other day; surrounded by records and artwork in his shop, the Train of Thought Emporium in North Street, Worthing.

But a phonecall from his flatmate Leanne Casey, 33, at about 3pm turned his life upside-down.

A fire had broken out in the kitchen of the flat they rented in Rowlands Road, Worthing; a fire so powerful it destroyed the three-storey building and tore the roof off.

Leanne Casey, 33, and Patrick Wells, 48

Despite everything Kev had lost, the 55-year-old chairman of the Cellar Arts Club was determined to look on the bright side: “The main thing is that we are all alive. That is what matters. It could have been a lot worse; posessions aren’t as important to me.”

Patrick Wells, Leanne’s partner, was in Edinburgh seeing friends when the blaze happened.

The 48-year-old said Leanne was in the flat when she heard the fire alarms go off, and her first instinct was to run upstairs to get her pet parrot Cyril. By the time she came back down, the blaze in the kitchen had grown – but the pair made it out safely.

The screen printer said: “She is really grateful to be alive and really thankful for all the donations and love she has received.

It took firefighters 11 hours to tackle the blaze. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

“People are amazing; it really restores your faith in humanity.”

Since the fire, friends have rallied around the three victims, donating clothes and offering them places to stay.

And fundraising pages for Kev and Leanne have raised more than £6,400 and €1,750 respectively. Kev said his ‘head has been spinning’ since he heard about his page: “Without clichés, it is overwhelming. People love me; it is quite something isn’t it? Really it just proves I have got some really good friends.

“I’m incredibly appreciative of everything people have done; it is mindblowing and it takes the pressure off because I don’t know what is going to happen next.”

The fire in Rowlands Road. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

Kev also paid tribute to the ‘bravery’ of firefighters who battled the blaze for 11 hours.

To donate to the pages, click here for Kev’s page and click here for Leanne’s.

Leanne Casey, 33, and Patrick Wells, 48
It took firefighters 11 hours to tackle the blaze. Picture: Eddie Mitchell
The fire in Rowlands Road. Picture by Eddie Mitchell