Mum-of-three has nearly nothing left after fire destroys home on UK's hottest day

·3-min read

A mother-of-three says she is devastated after her family home was destroyed by a huge fire that hit an east London village on the UK's hottest-ever day.

Claire Taylor, 40, lost everything apart from her grandfather's ashes, some photos, and clothes when Wennington went up in flames on Tuesday.

Nearly 20 properties were completely wrecked as the inferno raged in an "apocalyptic" scene.

Her family was one of around 90 to be evacuated, and while residents tried to rescue pets and salvage belongings, some were forced to flee largely empty-handed.

With her house lying in ruins, she told Sky News: "It's devastating. We lost my nan and grandad a few years ago. We had things that they had left us.

"Things they bought the boys that we've had for years. We had teddy bears that the children have had since they were born that they were really attached to and toys they were really attached to.

"It's just horrible. It's all your day-to-day stuff. It's all your paperwork. It's all your passports. Your life is gone in an instant. And that's what everyone is going through."

"No one thinks it's going to happen to them until it happens."

Ms Taylor said she was at work when she got a call on the hottest day on record from her husband, who was at the house with her father-in-law.

He told her that their friend's home nearby was under threat from fire, and then theirs was too.

Read more: Most striking UK heatwave pictures - from melting lights to wildfires and warped roads

'Apocalyptic' scene

She drove over to the village just a few miles away but could not get to her home as the police were moving people on.

Ms Taylor said she saw a mass black cloud across the road and the fields, calling the scene "apocalyptic".

She said her husband, father-in-law, and neighbours and friends were okay but were having to leave.

Ms Taylor, who works in a charity shop, said residents who had lost their homes were still in shock but "trying to muddle through".

Although the devastation is still "raw", her focus has turned to collecting donations and helping children and adults affected by the fire.

She told Sky News: "My job is more important to try and help other people. I can look at the house after. Right now, we need to focus on everyone who has been caught up in this situation - both Wennington and Dagenham - and get them as much help. This is the start of the school summer holidays."

'We can rebuild'

Ms Taylor said some children no longer have toys and bikes that would have kept them occupied over the break.

"If I can get enough information out there, that we can get some toys to try and make that a little bit easier for the children, it makes it a bit easier, knowing you have done that for other people."

Donations can be made at the KidEco shop at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Grays or to Baby Bank HQ.

Her family - including her own sons, Charlie, Alfie and Louie, aged eight, six, and one respectively - stayed with loved ones on Tuesday evening before heading to school on Wednesday for the last day of term.

The boys are now staying with their grandparents.

She said: "We can rebuild, carry on, that's all you can do. Keep going and come back stronger."

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