Portsmouth landlord’s life turned upside down after flat destroyed by fire

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A LANDLORD has admitted he was left with mixed emotions after a blaze destroyed his flat but saw his long-term tenant escape with his life after fleeing the flames.

Paul Fewings has revealed that his life has been turned upside down following the fire at his flat in Buckland, Portsmouth – which he has owned for more than 30 years – at around 5am on February 25.

Paul Fewings in the kitchen after the fire at his flat in New Road, Buckland     Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Paul Fewings in the kitchen after the fire at his flat in New Road, Buckland Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Flames tore through the first-floor flat, leaving the lounge totally destroyed. All valuable items inside were lost – ranging from art works to first edition vinyl and other collectables he had planned to use as part of his pension.

The rest of the flat suffered smoke damage while the ceiling of the lounge collapsed.

Paul, who has been landlord of the Winchester Arms pub nearby for 15 years, revealed that things could have been worse after his tenant ‘who normally sleeps like a baby’ managed to get out after hearing loud explosions.

He was later treated for smoke inhalation and given oxygen by fire crews before he was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.

Paul Fewings in what was the living room, after the fire at his flat in New Road, Buckland Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Paul Fewings in what was the living room, after the fire at his flat in New Road, Buckland Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘My tenant was in bed when he thought there were burglars trying to break in after the windows smashed,’ the 51-year-old said.

‘He came out of his room and saw flames and smoke pouring out the lounge and quickly ran out of the building. We’re just so lucky because it could have been a different story as he normally sleeps like a baby.’

Paul admitted the whole incident had affected him badly – especially with him not having contents insurance and facing an agonising wait to see if the freeholder’s buildings insurance will cover the damage to his leasehold flat. He is also out of pocket after losing the rental income from his tenant, who is currently ‘sofa surfing’.

Forensic investigators still have to carry out an assessment of the damage, but Paul said he was told the fire may have started by a table via a lamp and a router.

‘It’s hit me quite hard to be honest,’ he said.

‘There’ve been a few tearful days. I was in Cornwall at the time when I got the call from my tenant and was shocked. But I was even more shocked when I came back and saw the damage.

‘I hadn’t realised the full extent of the damage. It’s going to take a long time to sort out this mess. All the collectable items in the lounge were meant to be used for my pension fund but are now gone forever.’