Community spirit has turned tragedy into triumph for families whose homes were gutted in the Fishermead fire.
The estate has rallied round to replace everything lost in last week’s inferno, which turned the contents of three terraced houses in ashes.
“People have been incredible; they would give the clothes off their backs if they could,” said chair of the Fishermead Residents Association, Terry Baines.
“We’ve had offers of furniture, electrical goods, clothing, bedding… you name it, people have donated it. Everybody wants to do something to help these poor families.”
The blaze started on Friday afternoon in an end terrace house in Penryn Avenue. It spread rapidly to two neighbouring houses and only the efforts of up to 40 firefighters prevented it from engulfing the rest of the block.
Said Mr Baines, who is also a Campbell Park parish councillor: “Bucks Fire Service and indeed all of the emergency services involved, were absolutely fantastic. We cannot thank them enough.”
A crisis response effort from the community also went like clockwork – thanks to an official emergency plan drawn up only a few months ago.
Mr Baines said: “My parish council colleague David Priest and I are both ex forces. We realised there was no emergency plan for the area so we sat down and put one together. We didn’t realise it would be put into action quite so soon!”
Thanks to the plan, Fishermead Trinity Centre was open within minutes to provide refuge and hot drinks for the shocked families.
A mobile Red Cross also gave assistance.
“It was a superb example of the community working together. You simply cannot beat Fishermead for community spirit,” said Mr Baines.
Two of the homes affected were privately rented and the families are this week staying with relatives.
The third is a council house and the tenant, a young mum-of-two, was sent to the nearest available emergency accommodation – 80 miles away in Reading.
“She is now back in a B&B in Milton Keynes and the council hope to find her a home by the end of the week. We have everything ready and waiting for her,” said Mr Baines.