Families start to rebuild lives after Constantine fire
Residents worst hit by the fire that raged through homes in Constantine were staying with friends this week, while they attempted to salvage what remains of their belongings.
An out of control oil fire swept through a row of terraced houses in Constantine last weekend, gutting two homes and leaving three others badly damaged.
Sam Comyn’s home suffered some of the most devastating damage in the fire and an appeal was swiftly raised on social networking site Facebook for replacement clothes for her two young sons – aged just three and five.
Constantine’s strong community spirit was evident in the response, with many residents rallying to the call and dropping off donations at the Queens Arms pub.
Sam, who cannot return to her home and must now look for somewhere to rent, said: “The village have been brilliant and we have been inundated with clothes for our children.
“Slowly, slowly we will piece our lives back together,” she added.
The blaze, on Sunday (April 1), saw flames leaping thirty feet in the air above Wells Lane, with a tower of smoke visible from as far afield as Culdrose – more than six miles away.
Fire crews were amassed at speed after the fire broke out in a domestic heating oil tank just before 8pm, arriving on scene as a trail of flames licked along the ground, flowing past residents’ backdoors and devastating outbuildings.
Nearly 100 firefighters were scrambled to the inferno when it was at its height, with specialist fire platforms drafted in to tackle the blaze from above.
Mike Gregory lives in the end terrace with his wife, Lynda and feels very lucky to have escaped with his home unscathed.
Although ambulance crews confirmed that nobody was hurt in the fire, several houses in the row bore the brunt of the intense heat, while Mike could only witness the destruction outside his back door.
“We saw it from the kitchen window – the flames were 30 feet up in the air,” he said.
“And then the guys started arriving, loads of them, and they proceeded to put hoses everywhere – through our garden and into the scrubland out the back – it was very impressive.”
Mike praised the fire brigade for keeping everybody informed and although his home was eventually evacuated at 2am because of fears of smoke inhalation, he thanked them for allowing him to stay for as long as they did and for his swift return by Monday morning.
Other evacuees were not so fortunate and were forced to flee to the village social club, which laid on tea and coffee for those ousted from their homes.
White Watch manager Martin Addinall, from Falmouth Fire Station, was on the scene on Monday morning to help co-ordinate the clean-up and investigation.
He said fire crews had spotted the flames while en route through Treverva and realised they would need more fire engines – with ten summoned in total.
An “unbunded” (single skin) domestic oil tank is suspected as the root cause of the blaze after it ruptured, spilling burning oil into neighbouring properties.
“It was a running fuel fire that ran around the back of the properties,” Mr Addinall said.
“The crews were faced with a significant fire when they arrived, but had no way to get to it.”
With some imaginative hose-work, firefighters were able to negotiate the awkward space and successfully contained the fiery spill before it could reach a second oil tank.
Five properties were damaged by fire or smoke, Mr Addinall said and “two families have lost their houses,” he added.