Family-of-four 'lucky to be alive' after escaping devastating house fire

A Fylde family say they are "lucky to be alive" after escaping out of a bedroom window just moments before their home was engulfed in flames on Monday (January 4).

By Matthew Calderbank
Friday, 8th January 2021, 6:23 pm

A shell-shocked Matthew and Erica Hesketh, from the village of Newton, held their two terrified daughters tight in their arms as they watched their home of 10 years burn to the ground.

Minutes earlier, at 5am, the couple had awoken to the sound of water dripping from the kitchen of their bungalow in Moor Hall Lane, followed by the sound of banging from the loft.

Dreading dealing with a burst pipe before dawn, the couple got out of bed to investigate, where they found water streaming down from the kitchen ceiling.

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The remains of the kitchen and living room

But the pair then heard the sinister sound of 'crackling' coming from inside the attic and the unmistakable smell of fire soon followed.

Realising that their home was on fire, the pair ran into the bedroom shared by daughters, Nancy, 5 and Summer, 8, and scooped the sleeping children up in their arms.

One by one, the family made a swift escape through the bedroom window as the fire rapidly took hold of their home.

"Ten minutes later, the roof had completely collapsed and our home was gone," says Matthew, who remains stunned by what has happened to the home that has been in his family for four generations.

Matthew Hesketh says he thinks his family's home will have to be demolished due to the extent of the fire damage

"The house belonged to my great-granddad and I grew up visiting all the time. I have so many happy memories of the place. It was such a big part of my childhood.

"It has been in the family for over 60 years, passed down from one generation to the next.

"We bought it off my uncle and aunt 10 years ago because we wanted to make it our own family home. It's the only home Nancy and Summer have ever known. Our youngest keeps asking me, "when are we going home dad?"

The 44-year-old civil engineer says he regrets putting himself at further risk, after he ran back inside to rescue his car keys and phone.

The fire on Monday, January 4 has gutted the Hesketh family's home in Newton-with-Scales

"I just didn't think it was going to be consumed by fire so quickly" he said.

"I climbed back in through the window just to quickly grab a few things, as we couldn't see any flames at this point and I was in shock.

"But then I heard my wife Erica screaming at me from outside, she was shouting "get out, get out now!", because she could see fire coming through the roof.

"I climbed back out of the window and we all stood back in disbelief at what was happening."

Seven fire engines and a crew of 15 firefighters from Wesham, Blackpool, Penwortham and Preston battled the blaze

Within minutes, seven fire engines and a crew of 15 firefighters from Wesham, Blackpool, Penwortham and Preston were on the scene, along with the aerial ladder platform.

They battled the blaze for eight hours but nothing could be salvaged. The fire, the cause of which is still unclear, has consumed everything, including the children's Christmas presents.

Adding to their heartbreak, the family had just celebrated two birthdays over the Christmas holidays, with their youngest daughter Nancy turning five on Christmas Day and mum Erica celebrating her 41st birthday on December 27.

Matthew returned a couple of days later to see what he could salvage, but found only burnt remnants of birthday gifts and Christmas toys scattered among the ruined furniture.

Erica had also been busy studying to become a nurse and her laptop with all her coursework is among the many possessions lost in the fire.

"It's just unbelievable, we're still coming to terms with it but I don't think it's really hit me yet. If I think about it too much, I just start welling up," says Matthew.

The children's Christmas toys have been destroyed in the fire

"Everything's just gone. Everything. We were just left with the pyjamas we had on, as we stood in the dark watching our house burn down."

But Matthew says the "unbelievable generosity" of the local community has lifted the family's spirits, with neighbours and strangers pulling together to help them get back on their feet.

A fundraiser set up by local resident Maria Braithwaite has raised more than £1,000, whilst clothes and food donations are being brought to their temporary home at Ribby Hall Village holiday park.

Nancy and Summer have also been welcomed back to Treales Primary School to continue their schooling whilst Matthew and Erica begin rebuilding their lives.

"We've been overwhelmed with everyone's generosity. I know people always say this at times like these, but it really does restore your faith in humanity.

"Everyone, from our closest neighbours to complete strangers, have been so supportive. We just can't thank everyone enough."

If you would like to make a donation to the Hesketh family, you can visit the fundraising page here.

You can see a gallery of images showing the devastating damage to their home here.

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Nancy (left), who celebrated her 5th birthday on Christmas Day, and her sister Summer, 8, have lost all their Christmas presents in the fire