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Major relief effort starts to help mother-of-three who lost everything in flat fire

Neighbours have been collecting donations for the families affected by the weekend's fire in North Lynn. Pictured with some of the donations are Melanie Bridges and her daughter Rochelle. Picture: Ian Burt

Neighbours have been collecting donations for the families affected by the weekend's fire in North Lynn. Pictured with some of the donations are Melanie Bridges and her daughter Rochelle. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

An appeal has started to help a family with three children who lost everything in a devastating flat fire get back on her feet.

The aftermath of the fire in St Edmundsbury Road, North Lynn. Anna Jakusova, left, with Emma Webber. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHThe aftermath of the fire in St Edmundsbury Road, North Lynn. Anna Jakusova, left, with Emma Webber. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

When she heard about a fellow mother whose family who had lost everything they owned to a devastating house fire, Melanie Bridges was so struck by sadness that she felt moved to help.

So she started an appeal for clothes, food, furniture and anything that would help the family-of-four get back on their feet - sparking a major community-wide relief effort by neighbours to help a mother in need.

Anna Jakusova was left with nothing but the clothes she was standing in when the blaze tore through her flat in St Edmundsbury Way, North Lynn at around 3.10pm on Saturday, June 23.

Screaming for help, she used bags to carry the family’s six puppies out of the flat, while neighbour Paul Sharpin helped lift her two dogs and three children over the back fence to safety.

Flats have been damaged in a fire on St Edmundsbury Road in North Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtFlats have been damaged in a fire on St Edmundsbury Road in North Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

But everything inside appears to have been destroyed, with heavy smoke damage to at least three other properties in the block of flats. A neighbour’s Volkswagen Passat was also destroyed.

Ms Bridges, who herself has five children aged nine, 13, 17, 18 and 24, said on reading the story: “I had a thought that if it was me and my family and we lost everything, I just hope someone would help.

“To lose everything and having to replace that when you’ve lost your home and belongings - I just felt devastated for her. It just got to me.”

Ms Bridges put a post in the Facebook group Free to a Good Home Norfolk asking for any donations to those affected.

Flats have been damaged in a fire on St Edmundsbury Road in North Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtFlats have been damaged in a fire on St Edmundsbury Road in North Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

The response was overwhelming, with a stream of comments offering donations including two sofas, kitchen items, bedding and a table and chairs.

So much has been collected already that Ms Bridges is now appealing for a place to store everything ready for when Mrs Jakusova is rehomed.

But she is still appealing for large furniture such as bed as well as toys for Mrs Jakusova’s children, food for their dogs and anything else that would help.

“It was amazing - I wasn’t expecting that,” she said. “It was overwhelming.”

Flats have been damaged in a fire on St Edmundsbury Road in North Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtFlats have been damaged in a fire on St Edmundsbury Road in North Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Mrs Jakusova’s neighbour Emma Webber, whose flat luckily escaped any serious fire damage, said: “There’s been a lot of people donating stuff. That’s brilliant - I’m amazed at how the community has come together and we are really grateful.”

Mrs Jakusova, who was also treated for shock at the scene after escaping her burning flat, is currently staying with relatives.

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