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Man homeless after fire
6:00am Tuesday 31st December 2013 in News
KIND-HEARTED neighbours stepped in to helpaman forced from his home after his fridgefreezer caught fire.
Michael Welsford, 68, had popped over the road to visit a neighbour on Boxing Day evening when he spotted smoke billowing from his house.
He rushed inside to put out the fire, but smoke had already damaged the house so badly it was no longer habitable.
Mr Welsford, who has no surviing relatives, was taken to Basildon Hospital for treatment to burns on his head and smoke inhalation.
His beloved cat, Snow White, was suffocated in the fire.
Police and fire officers launched a joint investigation into the cause of the blaze, in Redwood Drive, Laindon.
Neighbours are now taking it in turns to put Mr Welsford up while the house is repaired.
Gavin Love, 44, said: “He could have lost the whole of the house.
It’s going to take a lot of work, but at least it can be recovered.
“Most of the damage was actually caused by smoke rather than the flames.
“The fire was out pretty quickly, but unfortunately, it was too late and the damage was already done.
“Michael is still in state of shock, but we’re just glad he wasn’t badly hurt. He is surrounded by neighbours who really care about him.”
Neighbours spent the weekend clearing Mr Welsford’s belongings from the house.
The fire broke out in the kitchen at about 8.50pm on Thursday. Firefighters from Basildon and Corringham had the flames out by 9.30pm.
A high pressure fan was then used to clear the smoke-logged house.
Firefighters have now established an electrical fault with the fridge-freezer was to blame.
Mr Welsford, who recently suffered a stroke, said: “I’m very lucky to have such good neighbours.
“I couldn’t have got through this without them. It’s brilliant what they are doing for me.”
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