More than 50 firefighters from across Hampshire were scrambled to the blaze on the top floor of a Grafton Street apartment block at 3.52pm on Wednesday.
Residents said they were ‘petrified’ during their evacuation as the blaze tore across the top of the four-storey building. No-one was injured.
Now a mum-of-five has described her shock and agony after discovering that her flat was the source of the fire, which has robbed her of some of her most precious possessions.
Dana Myers, 35, said: ‘I’m going through therapy at the moment, so I’m currently staying with my aunt and my uncle near Brighton.
‘I was getting phone calls galore – over 60.
‘To find out it was my flat – I just dropped. All my kids’ clothes are there – their first shoes, their first outfits, everything.
‘I actually don’t know what to say. I threw up a few times.’
Dana’s five children live with their father in the city, and the devoted mother says that the fire has destroyed her only mementos of the twins she was expecting in 2010 but who were delivered still-born.
She added: ‘The scan photos of my still-borns – it’s all gone. All of my clothes. Everything I own.
‘I’ve seen pictures and the cupboard where everything is stored is burned-out completely.
‘I’m never going to be able to replace their first ever clothes, or the scan photos – I’m never going to be able to get that back.’
Representatives from the police and council have told Dana they will be in contact to let her know when she may return to the property.
She added: ‘I don’t want to walk in there at the moment – it would set me right back.’
Dana said she had no previous concerns about electrical equipment or fire hazards within the property.
The tragedy comes after the hard-hit mum spent much of 2020 needing medical treatment for a persistent case of tuberculosis and then spent part of 2021 recovering from a motorcycle accident that left deep bruising across her back.
Dana said: ‘I’m owed a little good luck.’
Friend Candice Moss hopes to begin the reversal of fortune by launching a GoFundMe page to replace everything lost to the fire.
The 39-year-old, who previously ran the Park Tavern pub in Edinburgh Road until 2018, said: ‘The main part of the GoFundMe is to get essentials like a cooker, a washing machine, maybe a TV.
‘At the moment I’m having a lot of people saying they are going to sort some of their clothes for her.
‘I’m 100 per cent confident of the community in Buckland – everyone in Portsmouth, if there’s something dire going on, I know that people will rally around.’
Police believe the fire was started deliberately and officers investigating the fire have arrested a 51-year-old man from Portsmouth on suspicion of attempted arson with intent to endanger life.
A spokesman from Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘We would like to hear from anyone who may have any information about the fire, or who saw or heard anything suspicious.’