New Year's Day blaze rips into family home - couple 'took a risk' by cancelling household insurance after spell of unemployment

PUBLISHED: 23:49 01 January 2016 | UPDATED: 23:49 01 January 2016

Edward and Berenice Francis with their home in Southery, which has been gutted by fire on New Years Eve. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Edward and Berenice Francis with their home in Southery, which has been gutted by fire on New Years Eve. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2015

A devastated couple spent the start of 2016 salvaging what remains of their home, which was hit by a fire during the early hours of New Year's Day.

Bernice Francis and her husband Edward are coming to terms with the fact that many of their possessions have been destroyed in the blaze – and none of them was insured.

Mrs Francis, 53, said: “As we’d both been unemployed for a little while, we decided to cut back on a few things last year.

“We cancelled the television package, for example, and really had to watch our money because we had to go on benefits.

“But we also took a risk – and didn’t take out any insurance on our home.

Struggling to hold back tears, she added: “Right now, I really don’t know how we’re going to afford to get through this.

“We’d both managed to start new jobs in April. Just when our lives were going in a positive direction, we’ve been kicked back down

again.

“Luckily we have great friends and family helping us through this.”

The grandparents were out welcoming the New Year with loved ones when they had a call from the police to say their house was on fire.

Officers spotted the blaze while on patrol in Southery, near Littleport, during the early hours of New Year’s Day.

They called the fire service at around 1.10am and four crews from Downham Market, Methwold, Littleport and King’s Lynn South attended.

The couple’s two dogs, both four-year-old Lhasa Apsos named Charlie and Bella, were rescued from the house. Nobody was injured.

Bob Ayres, station manager for King’s Lynn, said: “The fire started in the workshop area attached to the home and crews worked hard to contain it there.

“It is difficult to identify the cause but it is believed to be the blow torch. The owner had been using it 24 hours previously, and we think that may have something to do with it.”

Mr Francis, 58, who now works for Norfolk County Council’s Careline said: “Thankfully, everyone is fine but it is so difficult to see something that you worked so hard for completely destroyed.

“I used to be a builder and had a lifetime of tools stored in my workshop – it’s all completely gone.”

The couple are looking to move into temporary accommodation as soon as possible.

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