Family forced out after house blaze

Geraldine Gallagher and her son Jack Grant in their fire damage kitchen. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (143661-306)
Geraldine Gallagher and her son Jack Grant in their fire damage kitchen. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (143661-306)
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A FAMILY has been left devastated after a chip pan caught fire, causing damage which has forced them out of their home over the Christmas period.

Luckily Jack Grant, 21, and his heavily-pregnant girlfriend Elysia Gillain, 19, managed to escape the first-floor flat before rushing to the Chinese takeaway next door for help.

The flat, in White Hart Lane, Portchester, is rented by Jack’s mother Geraldine Gallagher, who was away visiting her elderly parents when the blaze took hold, causing their appliances to melt and covering their home in black soot.

Mrs Gallagher, a care worker, said: ‘I got a call on Sunday night to say there had been a fire in my kitchen. I couldn’t believe it. I was so shocked I just burst into tears. I was horrified.’

Jack had put a chip pan on the hob at around 9.30pm, while Elysia was in the living room wrapping presents.

He left the pan unattended for a few minutes and when he returned, it was engulfed in flames.

Jack, a contract cleaner, said: ‘We didn’t know what we were doing. We got out and went to the Chinese for help.

‘At the start it was a small fire so we thought they might have an extinguisher but when we came back up and saw the smoke coming down the stairs we thought no we couldn’t do that.’

A smoke detector in the hallway did not go off as the battery had been disconnected. Geraldine said that as the flat did not have a kitchen door, the smoke detector had gone off every time they tried to cook, which led them to disconnecting it, something she now regrets.

The flat was privately rented so the landlord is working to get the place fixed so they can move back in, but in the meanwhile Elysia has gone to stay with her family, Jack is at his dad’s house and Geraldine is in a hotel. Geraldine has been trying to get the place cleaned up and to salvage some of their belongings, but unfortunately they did not have any insurance.

Geraldine said: ‘There’s black ceilings, smoke everywhere, all the clothes stink of smoke. I’ve had to go down the laundrette and do the washing as we have no electric and we don’t know how long it will be before it is going to be back on.’

Jack added: ‘It stinks, I’ve tried keeping the windows open for hours and hours but it just doesn’t go.’

Geraldine said: ‘It’s ruined our Christmas. All my frozen food has had to be thrown out. My television melted so we threw it away, my chest freezer is all melted and all my kitchen appliances have melted and had to be thrown out. It’s awful.’

Watch a video of the damage here