Cigarette fire destroys two village homes

AN 80-year-old man s life went up in flames after a discarded cigarette destroyed his neighbours house, burnt down his own house and killed a pet dog. Frederick Jackson had to flee his Warboys home after a fire, which started in a neighbouring property,

AN 80-year-old man's life went up in flames after a discarded cigarette destroyed his neighbours' house, burnt down his own house and killed a pet dog.

Frederick Jackson had to flee his Warboys home after a fire, which started in a neighbouring property, spread to the house where he has lived for 40 years.

The fire started at 5.30pm on Friday at property in Jubilee Avenue.

Mr Jackson said he was told to get out of his house by his neighbour's children, and then had to watch as firefighters tried to save his home and belongings.


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"I was watching television when I smelt burning and felt really hot," he told The Hunts Post.

"Then there was a knock at the door and the two young lads from next door came round and said 'you've got to get out, the house is on fire'.

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"The boys were visibly upset and crying. I phoned the fire brigade and ran outside.

"The air was full of thick, black smoke, which you could taste and made it hard to breath. I could see flames reaching higher than my house and there were crowds of people watching and firemen everywhere."

According to the fire service, the fire started in the conservatory at Mr Jackson's neighbours' house and quickly spread. They added that it was caused by a discarded cigarette.

His neighbours' terrier-type dog also died in the fire.

Fire crews from Ramsey, Huntingdon, Chatteris and Peterborough attended the blaze and had to cut holes in the roof to dampen down the properties.

The two homes are now boarded up and both have been deemed uninhabitable.

Mr Jackson, who is insured, said: "The roof has collapsed, everything upstairs is ruined and everything downstairs is water damaged and smoke logged. I doubt much can be salvaged.

"I have lost everything - I could cry about it but it won't help and it won't change anything."

The heat of the fire cracked his windows, melted his garden ornaments and destroyed garden flowers and a line of conifers.

Firefighters managed to save a piles of clothes, a table and chairs, a television set and some family photos, but almost everything else is believed to have been smoke or water damaged.

Now homeless, Mr Jackson is living with a friend in Warboys with what little belongings he has left boxed up in a garage.

Although he has been told not to go inside his house because it is deemed structurally unsafe, he visits it daily to examine the damage from the garden and through the windows.

Mr Jackson, who spent most of his life working on farms in Warboys, added: "There are so many memories in that house and I would not want to live anywhere else. I will wait until it is fixed then I will move back in. I can't stop thinking about it, but there is nothing I can do."

It could take six months to a year before the house is ready to be inhabited.

The property is rented by Mr Jackson from the Luminus Group. A spokesman said support was being provided to Mr Jackson and alternative accommodation was offered to him.

A police investigation has been launched into the incident.

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