Hoverboard Christmas present guts Barking family of six’s home
PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:09 12 January 2017
A mum has told of her shock after a Christmas present burst into flames and gutted her house.
The hoverboard which Clare Happe bought for her daughter via Facebook set alight on New Year’s Day – and now the family of five have been told that they might not be able to return home for three months.
Repairs to the house in De Pass Gardens, Barking, are expected to cost £10,000 after the blaze damaged the three bedrooms, ceilings, walls and floors.
“There was a loud explosive bang,” Clare, 32, recalled. “They [the children] all started screaming when I told them it was on fire.”
She was particularly spooked as her and partner Charlie Heatley’s seven-month old baby, of the same name, were sleeping in one of the affected bedrooms just ten minutes before the fire broke out.
“I can’t believe it,” Clare admitted. “To stand outside and watch everything you worked hard for just go up in smoke was awful.”
Firefighters took two hours to put out the blaze, but the after-effects are still being felt by her children Taylor Dodd, 15, Harrison Happe, nine, and Summer-Lily Happe, seven.
“Harrison has been affected the most, he had to be sent home from school the other day due to anxiety,” Clare said. “This change affects them badly, they are all traumatised.”
After sleeping in Dagenham’s Premier Inn for four nights, the family have now been rehomed in Stratford by Southern Housing.
“It’s been a struggle but it’s better than a hostel,” Clare, who
has lived in Barking Riverside for three-and-half years, admitted. “We’re still in limbo though – we can’t wait to go home.
“Summer-Lily came out with just the clothes on her back, she lost all her toys and clothes and everything. She said: ‘Mum, at
least I’ve got you’ – that broke my heart.”
Clare and Charlie, who are both unemployed, have thrown away the identical hoverboards given to Taylor and Harrison for Christmas, and have vowed to never again buy an electric item on Facebook. They also plan to take legal action against the seller, who charged £185 for each of the hoverboards.
“We have lost everything in our home,” said Clare. “We want the seller to realise it could have been a lot worse – we could have lost our lives.”
A London Fire Brigade spokesman confirmed that the fire was caused by “faulty electrical equipment”.
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