Portsmouth woman: Flat fire has taken everything away from me

A WOMAN has spoken of her upset and devastation after a fire caused extensive smoke damage to her flat.

Wednesday, 1st August 2018, 12:31 pm
Updated Saturday, 1st September 2018, 9:58 am
Linda Byrne standing near her flat door with fire damage clearly visible. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Linda Byrne, from Portsmouth, has been living in a hotel since the blaze in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Police are investigating the cause of the fire which happened while Linda was out with friends.

The 31-year-old, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, has been unable to stay at the council-owned property at Cheeryble House, off Wingfield Street, due to the smoke damage left behind by the fire.

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Linda Byrne standing near her flat door with fire damage clearly visible. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Portsmouth City Council has paid for Linda to stay in the hotel until tomorrow as a short-term solution but she is worried about what will happen next.

She said: '˜I got a call at 4am on Saturday while I was out with friends to say my flat was on fire. The detective phoned me and when I got home, the whole area was cordoned off.

'˜Police had put tape up and there were lots of firefighters. They told me I couldn't go inside because it was being treated as a crime scene.

'˜I was shocked by the whole thing and all I kept thinking was 'I don't have a home'.'

The council put Linda in hotel on Saturday night and told her to see the housing department on Monday. When she went to the civic offices, she says the council officer told her she should move back into her flat.

After explaining her lung condition and the state of her home, the local authority agreed to pay for the hotel for another three nights.

Linda added: '˜I don't know what will happen after Thursday. They still think I can live in my flat but I can't.

'˜The whole situation is causing me so much stress. I am really upset and don't know what to do. I feel like everything has been taken away from me.

'˜I had to ask a friend to help get what little possessions I can because of how badly the smoke is affecting my lungs. Most of my furniture and the surfaces are covered in soot.

'˜All I asked of the council was for them to send someone to clean the soot or for somewhere more permanent to stay.' 

A spokeswoman for Portsmouth City Council said: '˜Police are investigating the cause of the fire and we're making enquiries to agree the best way forward for our tenant.'

 A 29-year-old man, from Portsmouth, has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent/reckless as to whether life was endangered. He has been released from custody but remains under investigation.