Pensioner went into ‘zombie mode’ as terrifying blaze erupts

Fire at Fernhurst Close, Hayling Island, on Sunday, July 16. Picture: HFRS
Fire at Fernhurst Close, Hayling Island, on Sunday, July 16. Picture: HFRS
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Fire at Fernhurst Close, Hayling Island, on Sunday, July 16. Picture: HFRS

Homes evacuated as Hayling Island shed blaze spreads to house

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A WIDOW has spoken of her terror after fearing she’d ‘lose her home’ in a blaze that ripped through a shed and spread to her house.

Jean Roberston was upstairs in her home in Fernhurst Close, Hayling Island, when she saw the garden fence she shared with her neighbours engulfed in flames.

A fire from a shed spread to a neighbouring roof in Fernhurst Close in Hayling Island on Sunday, July 16

A fire from a shed spread to a neighbouring roof in Fernhurst Close in Hayling Island on Sunday, July 16

The 78-year-old fled her detached home after realising the fire was moving towards her property, and shouted for help.

The blaze, which left her neighbour with burns to his face, started just before 8.30am yesterday. It destroyed part of Jean’s garden and damaged the side of her home and its roof.

The neighbouring property was badly affected by the fire, with much of the kitchen destroyed.

Jean said: ‘I was just about to put some washing on when I heard a big bang.

Fire at Fernhurst Close, Hayling Island. Picture: HFRS

Fire at Fernhurst Close, Hayling Island. Picture: HFRS

‘I looked out my window, saw smoke, and thought my neighbours were having a bonfire.

‘Then I saw the flames and instantly I went into zombie mode, the whole thing was very surreal, it felt like a nightmare.

‘I rushed to get my phone, opened my front door and shouted “fire!”

‘I couldn’t dial 999 because I was in shock, but someone else did.’

Four crews from Havant and Hayling Island fire stations attended.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said six breathing apparatus were used as well as two hose reels and two jets to extinguish the fire.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but is being investigated.

A spokeswoman for the South Central Ambulance Service said: ‘Paramedics assessed and treated a male in his 70s, who sustained minor burns to his face, but didn’t need hospital treatment.’

Jean has praised the efforts of firefighters who worked to put out the blaze, and stayed afterwards to remove damaged tiles from the roof of both properties, while ensuring they remained weatherproof.

She added: ‘It’s been nearly one year since I lost my husband, and so my two cats, who were both inside my home, mean a lot to me.

‘I spent two hours outside convinced I was going to lose them, the house and all the memories and photographs of my husband inside – but I didn’t and I’m so relieved no-one was seriously hurt.

‘Things like this make you realise how lucky you are and the firefighters were wonderful, as were my neighbours.’

Jean’s son Guy Bennett, 57, rushed to her home when he heard of the fire.

He said: ‘We couldn’t fault the fantastic fire crews. I’m glad everyone is okay.’