Leigh Park family thank community for ‘wonderful’ support following house fire which claimed the lives of five beloved pets - and are now appealing for help to repair their home

A FAMILY devastated by the loss of their beloved pets during a house fire is appealing for help to fix their home.

By Emily Jessica Turner
Thursday, 20th May 2021, 4:55 am

Homeowner Eve Rendle’s house in Bondfields Crescent suffered serious damage after a fire started in her son’s bedroom at around 5.30am on April 30.

Despite Eve’s desperate attempt to save her animals, three of the family’s dogs and two of their pet cats tragically died as a result of the fire.

Eve, 58, said: ‘I went to bed as normal, and the next thing I remember is Michael, my son, waking me up, telling me there was a house fire.

Eve Rendle and her son Michael pictured in their fire damaged home. The are appealing to the community for help in repairing the property as they did not have home insurance. The pair are pictured in Eve's bedroom. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

‘I called my boys - my dogs - to follow me and went to leave the house. I got downstairs and realised they hadn’t followed me.’

Michael and Stephen, Eve’s two adult sons, also safely left the Leigh Park property, as did Michael’s friend, Aiden Kelly, who lives in a construction in Eve’s garden.

Realising some of her dogs had not followed her outside, Eve ran back in to rescue them.

She said: ‘I grabbed the hose from the garden, and doused myself to run through the house to get them.

Eve and Michael in Michael's bedroom, where the fire started. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

‘Unfortunately I just couldn’t, and as I was up the stairs, there was a loud bang which I assume was something exploding in Michael’s bedroom.

‘Next thing is Aiden pulling me backwards, else I wouldn’t have made it.

‘If it hadn’t been for my son’s friend, I wouldn’t be here today.

‘It’s like you’re watching it on the television - it doesn’t feel like it’s happening to you.’

ASDA Havant was able to to provide an emergency grant from The ASDA Foundation, supplying the family with basic clothing, storage boxes and plenty of cleaning equipment and products, as pictured.

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Eve was then taken to hospital along with Michael, where they were both treated for carbon monoxide inhalation.

She said: ‘It wasn’t until we got up the hospital that I learned that three of my dogs and two of my cats had died.

‘I just wanted to get home to my dogs. That was all I could think of.

‘When Stephen, my other son, told me that some of my dogs had died, I had a funny five minutes - my blood pressure suddenly shot up and I had what we call ‘an episode’. I ended up having to have a CT scan to make sure I hadn’t had a stroke.’

Dogs Bentley, Bilbo, and Doc - a ten-month-old puppy with spinal issues - died as a result of the fire, along with cats Felicity and Matilda.

The family is passionate about helping rescue animals and take in many dogs with behavioural problems who cannot be rehomed.

Eve said: ‘We work with them, and they’re absolutely amazing now. They’re our life. My dogs are my world.’

The family has another five cats and seven dogs.

Eve said: ‘They’ve got us through this - I’ve needed them far more than they need us.’

Michael added: ‘Adrenaline kept us going for a couple of days.

‘It’s pretty heartbreaking, but losing all the stuff doesn’t bother me - it’s losing our pets.’

Due to the damage inside the home, Eve is sleeping in the conservatory and Michael is sleeping in the shed. Stephen is staying with his sister, Eve’s daughter Victoria, and Eve’s eldest son Richard lives abroad.

The family is now embarking on a substantial clean-up job, taking out burned doors, chipping plaster off, and clearing up rubbish from where the ceiling fell in.

Michael’s bedroom, where the fire started - possibly caused by a rechargeable battery - has been ‘pretty much gutted’

Eve said: ‘It’s been full steam ahead, every day we ended up covered in black soot.’

Along with Michael’s bedroom, Eve’s room and the landing suffered the worst damage in the fire.

However, the family say that they feel ‘lucky’ and are ‘grateful’ to their community for rallying around them in their time of need.

Michael said: ‘It could have been so much worse.’

Eve said: ‘We can’t forget how very lucky we have been, because the roof didn’t set on fire and we’ve still got a lot here to be grateful for.’

‘The community has just been amazing, sending us clothes and food, and dog beds.’

‘Asda Havant sent two trollies of cleaning supplies. This has been so appreciated.

‘Pets at Home gave us vouchers to replace the dog beds that got burned or water damaged.

‘We are just so very grateful, we’ve had some wonderful help.

‘A huge massive thank you to everybody that has helped us. The PO9 food bank was here that day with meals for us, a lady across the road has been doing washing for us, neighbours providing the skips, the community dropping clothes off.

‘A heartfelt thanks, as we couldn’t have got through these weeks without their help and support.’

The house, which was originally rented from Portsmouth City Council by the family from 2004 until they bought it in 2009, was not insured - meaning that the family has no money to pay for crucial repairs.

They say they need electricians to rewire the lights upstairs, plasterers to help with wall and ceiling damage, and carpenters to help replace the burned doors.

Eve said: ‘Please help us, and I’ll pay forward. I haven’t got money but if there’s ever anything that needs doing - your books, phone calls made, I can do that sort of thing.

‘I hate asking for help and I struggle with realising how much help we need now, but there’s only so much I can do.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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