Mum tells of her terror as flames destroyed home

Sarah Ackers with her husband Alan
Sarah Ackers with her husband Alan
On the evening of October 23,1970 two tankers collided six miles south of the Isle of Wight. 13 crewmen died.

Flames from the oil tanker Pacific Glory could be seen from Portsdown Hill

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A MUM has spoken of her family’s horrific ordeal as they tried to escape a fire that ripped through their home.

Sarah Ackers, 37, was trapped with her baby daughter in a bedroom as thick smoke poured up the staircase of her home in Curlew Gardens, Wecock.

The house in Curlew Gardens was destroyed. Picture : Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

The house in Curlew Gardens was destroyed. Picture : Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

Today she told The News of her family’s struggle to make it out alive – and how grateful they all feel to have survived the blaze.

As previously reported, the Ackers’ home was left nothing more than charred rubble.

The local community, including staff from Tesco, has rallied round to support the family with donations of food and clothes.

Mrs Ackers said it was just like any other night as her family went to bed, having locked the doors, closed the windows and switched off appliances.

Mrs Ackers, her husband Alan, their seven-year-old daughter and one-year-old baby, were asleep when a fire started downstairs.

‘We were woken up by a strange sound,’ said Mrs Ackers.

‘I thought it was the alarm clock going off. The next thing I knew Alan got out of bed and said “Get out of the house, it’s on fire”.

‘Originally I thought he was messing around.’

Both parents ran into the hallway to get their seven-year-old daughter.

Mrs Ackers said: ‘My mum’s instinct kicked in and I was shouting out my children’s names. Alan managed to get down the stairs with my daughter, but God knows how.

‘He tried to get back through the front door and got engulfed with the smoke. I couldn’t find a way through.

‘I managed to get back in the bedroom and pick the baby up. I got trapped in the bedroom because the window was stuck.’

Mr Ackers climbed on to the roof of the front-door porch and the baby was passed through the window to him.

A neighbour managed to stretch out her arms out of her bathroom window to lift the baby to safety, as mum and dad continued to struggle to get the window open.

Mrs Ackers was eventually able to clamber out and climbed down a ladder.

‘It was petrifying,’ said Mrs Ackers. ‘You read about these things in the news, but you never think it’s going to happen to you.’

Despite losing everything, Mrs Ackers said she was lucky.

‘A house is just a material thing,’ she said.

‘I have still got my beautiful kids and we have all got each other.’

‘We just want to say how grateful we are for all the help’

THE Ackers family said they had been totally overwhelmed by the support they have received from the community.

With the help of Havant Borough Council and Guinness Care and Support, the family have been rehoused in Billy Lawn Avenue, Leigh Park.

Tesco, in Havant, got together a van-load of groceries, clothing, toiletries and clothes. Clarks has provided new shoes for the family, and a pensioner from Emsworth donated furniture.

Mrs Ackers said: ‘We just want to get across how grateful we are for the help and support.

‘It’s been amazing. No words can describe how we feel – to see there are people out there who care.’

The family have returned to see the remains of the property.

‘We remember the house as when we went to bed on Tuesday evening,’ said Mrs Ackers.

‘We haven’t given up on it.

‘It’s still our address.

‘Hopefully they will be able to rebuild it.’

Portsmouth Housing Association have told the family they could rebuild but it could take a year for the work to be finished.

The family still have no clue what started the fire in the early hours of last Wednesday.

‘We don’t know where it actually started,’ said Mrs Ackers.

‘We just did our normal routine.’

A investigation into the fire is still under way.