Family of eight hit by house fire helped by generosity of strangers

From left, Tyler Smith, Lisa Smith with Jimmy Dean Smith, Billy-Joe Smith, Tilly-Louise Smith, John

From left, Tyler Smith, Lisa Smith with Jimmy Dean Smith, Billy-Joe Smith, Tilly-Louise Smith, John Callaby, Danny Smith and Curtis Smith. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Just days ago they were left with only the clothes on their backs, when fire tore through their home, destroying their belongings.

Fire crews at the scene of yesterday's blaze in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Fire crews at the scene of yesterday's blaze in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Father recalls house fire as family of eight escape Downham Market blaze

But members of a family of eight have been helped back on their feet after complete strangers rallied round to assist them.

Lisa Smith and her partner John Callaby have now spoken out to express their immense gratitude for the response they and the six children have received from the community.

Fire fighters tackled a blaze in Elizabeth Avenue, Downham Market. Photo: James Hill (@triplemeister

Fire fighters tackled a blaze in Elizabeth Avenue, Downham Market. Photo: James Hill (@triplemeister) - Credit: Archant

Since the blaze, on Tuesday, they have been overwhelmed by donations from the public, with strangers providing items such as clothes, toys, household products and kitchen equipment.


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'I can't thank people enough for everything they have done to help us,' said Ms Smith. 'When our home burned down, John and I both thought that we'd have to start again completely from scratch.

'But just a couple of days after it happened, my children have clothes to wear and shoes on their feet. Someone has even brought a fridge freezer over, that's how kind people have been to us.'

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The couple and the six children lost all their belongings in a loft fire which spread quickly across three homes in Elizabeth Avenue, Downham Market.

The family have been temporarily rehoused in the nearby village of Nordelph and have received donated furniture including beds for children Billy-Joe, 10; Tyler, eight; Curtis, seven; Tilly-Louise, four; Danny, two; and three-month-old Jimmy-Dean.

Jenna Carter, a friend, posted a request to a Facebook group advertising items for sale in Thetford, asking if anyone could help the family who had lost their home in the fire.

'They literally only had the clothes on their backs,' she said. 'I'm also a mother and I had to do something to help. So far, the response has been amazing.'

Mr Callaby was soothing their new-born son at around 3am on Tuesday when he could smell smoke and came across the fire in the landing.

'We all keep telling Jimmy-Dean that he's our little hero,' Ms Smith said. 'He doesn't understand yet but if it wasn't for him being awake in the middle of the night, I dread to think what the outcome could have been.'

Tony Hall, chief executive of Freebridge Community Housing, said: 'We are currently making the building safe, whilst working with the relevant authorities to ensure that building work to restore the homes takes place as soon as possible.'

A fundraising page has been launched on 'Go Fund Me'. Visit www.gofundme.com/lezryo for more information.

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