‘We have lost everything’ – Worthing family’s belongings still trapped in flat after Rectory Road fire

Tenzing and Laxmi Lama SUS-180110-123645001
Tenzing and Laxmi Lama SUS-180110-123645001

A Worthing resident whose flat was badly damaged in August’s Bank Holiday fire in Rectory Road has said he is still unable to salvage his belongings from the building.

Tenzing Lama, 52, has also owned the Gurkha Tandoori restaurant below the flats for 20 years and said his family had ‘lost everything’ after being barred from re-entering the building amid health and safety concerns.

“We don’t know where to go, we are hanging in the vacuum,” he said.

“My business is gone. My employment is gone. At the same time, all of the possessions we had are lost. We have lost everything.

“At the restaurant, I have lost £10,000 of stock in drinks, meat, poultry, fish, it’s all gone rotten. All of our furniture in the flat is rotten.”

The fire tore through the buildings’ roofs, leaving flats exposed to the elements. Mr Lama said he can see his possessions from the street, but can not access them.

Even water used to douse the flames has settled in the ground floor restaurant, he said, rotting the floorboards and furniture.

Mr Lama said he and his wife Laxmi had thrown a 5th birthday party for their daughter, Tejashree, on the Sunday. Her presents are also trapped in the flat.

They managed to salvage a mirror and some family pictures, but has been stopped from entering since.

“Whenever we ask, we are given one sentence – ‘this is because of health and safety’,” he said. “I just want to go back to salvage my things.”

The Lamas rented out a second property which they are now staying in, but not only is it unfurnished, removing the tenant has lost their final source of income.

Despite the hardships, the Lamas said they are touched by the ‘humanity and kindness’ shown by the community, who have donated clothes, furniture and presents for Tejashree.

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “The fire investigation is ongoing. Owing to the building being structurally unsafe, we are currently unable to access the site in order to carry out our fire investigation work.”