Donations flood in for fire-hit Chapman family in Belton
- Credit: Archant
A fire-hit family have today hailed the rallying response of friends and neighbours following a devastating blaze at their home in Belton.
Martin Chapman described how he was beaten back by choking smoke several times before he was able to rescue his beloved dog Ruby - and then go back to contain the fire to stop it spreading along the terrace.
Helped by his friend James Emmerson, 26, who applauded his heroic efforts, the demolition company owner repeatedly soaked himself in hose water so he could re-enter the property in Rosedale Gardens.
The 42-year-old said he was only thankful his wife Sarah and sons Leon, 15, and Sonny, 10 were not in the house - having left for a dentist appointment moments before.
At the time of the blaze at around 5.35pm on Tuesday around 40 people flocked to the scene to see if they could help.
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Other Belton companies were quick to offer their services and within 15 minutes of fire crews leaving the house was safely boarded up.
Inside, however, all their belongings are ruined and it is likely to be several months until the family can return home.
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Although smoke detectors had been been fitted they were destroyed by the ferocity of the blaze before they could sound the alarm, he said.
The fire broke out in the living room just five minutes after the occupants left, although they were all nearby in the garage, causing a tropical fish tank to burst spilling its contents all over the room and helping to dampen the flames.
They later discovered some of the fish scooped up in a jar, presumably by fire crews.
Another dog Bella escaped unharmed although Ruby spent the night at the vets.
Mr Chapman said: 'I never want to go through that again. Hats off to the firemen that do that job every day. It is just noise, heat, and smoke. You cannot see and you cannot hear.'
Mrs Chapman, 43, said the family had been overwhelmed by the many offers of help and hundreds of phone calls and text messages in the wake of the fire, with people offering to cook for them and pledging to help with a rapid rebuild.
Mr Chapman said he understood the fire started in a transformer box and could have been smouldering undetected for a while.
He was keen to thank Belton-based HD Windows and Norfolk and Suffolk Roofing as well as Paws pet parlour for washing and drying the dogs.
An online donation page for the Chapman family has raised £1500 in its first few hours.