Home of Newhaven mum-of-two destroyed by fire on Christmas day

A MOTHER-OF-TWO is “Covid positive and homeless” after a fire ripped through her kitchen on Christmas day.

Keira Sanded now faces months in temporary accommodation and the prospect of losing her dog Kasper as a result – the four-year-old family pet is not allowed in the new house.

“It’s just been a year of devastation,” said Keira, who has endured a difficult few months. “It’s just been one thing after another.”

In September the 34-year-old from Newhaven, who is 21 weeks pregnant with her third child, was made redundant from her job with Virgin Atlantic. She had been a stewardess with the airline for 13 years.

The following week her father died from Covid-19.

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She contracted the disease herself days before Christmas and on December 25 was self-isolating with her partner Wayne Barrett.

This meant she had to spend the holiday apart from her children, Cayden Taylor, 11, and Miley Taylor, nine, who are currently staying with their father.

Keira said: “I was completely incapacitated and my partner was really ill as well. He was cooking. We got to about 2.45pm and I was very drowsy. My partner was falling asleep too.

“He got the meat out of the oven and put it on the side and we both fell asleep.

“I woke up when I heard a crackling sound and saw smoke drifting across the room.

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“Wayne went into the kitchen to have a look and there was a small fire by the oven.

“He went and soaked some blankets in water to put over the fire but oxygen got hold of the flames and the fire just grew.”

Fire crews were called but the house was already badly damaged.

The ceiling had been burned through and appliances melted by the flames, which left black scorch marks across the walls.

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Keira said fire crews told her it might be weeks before anyone could enter her home and months before it could be lived in again.

Keira called Lewes District Council to find out if there was anywhere she could go.

“We were Covid positive and homeless,” she said. “I explained it all and their out-of-hours team said, ‘don’t worry, we’ll find you emergency accommodation’.”

But she was later told no bed and breakfasts in the area were willing to house her because she had coronavirus. She was able to stay with her mother, who was also isolating after taking her to hospital, for one night.

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The next day, Keira received a call from the council saying she had been booked into a nearby hotel. But when she rang the hotel to check the details, she found it had not been told she had tested positive for Covid-19. Once it knew, it was unable to accept her.

Following this, Keira was told by the council she would have to be wait until Tuesday, December 29, to be found accommodation as this was when all council staff would return to work.

Four days after the fire she was found a two-bedroom property in Seaford. Keira said this would “not be ideal” as her children were aged 11 and nine. Then things got worse: “We have been told we need to permanently rehouse our dog, Kasper,” Keira said. “He can’t come with us. I don’t know what the kids will do when they find out.

“After the fire, the first thing they asked for was a picture of him. We have had him since he was a puppy.”

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She and her partner will have to pay about £1,700 a month for the temporary accommodation, compared £430 she was paying for her home previously.

“We have lost everything except for the clothes on our back,” she said.

But she said the support from the Newhaven community had been “overwhelming”.

Many people and businesses have donated items to help the family and a GoFundMe page set up by her sister has already collected more than £1,470.

Keira is now looking forward to seeing her children again, with her isolation period ending on Saturday.

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“My little girl is ten in a couple of weeks,” she said. “She has been sending me messages counting down the days until we can see each other again. This is the longest she has ever been away from me.”

A Lewes District Council spokesman said: “We sympathise greatly with the most difficult and challenging position Ms Sanded, her family and her partner have found themselves in. Most importantly, no one was hurt in the fire and our team will be liaising with the fire service to assess the damage to the property.

“The two-bedroom flat that we found for Ms Sanded was the only available property our officers could find in the circumstances, a search that was obviously complicated by her positive Covid-19 test.

“Our team have provided details of how she can apply for an emergency grant to assist with purchasing essential items. We are in regular contact to ensure she has what she needs and have provided her with details of support agencies.”

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