Family of five lucky to be alive after devastating flat fire in Milton Keynes

All their possessions - including little boy's unopened birthday presents - were destroyed by flames and smoke

Monday, 6th September 2021, 2:25 pm
Updated Monday, 6th September 2021, 2:26 pm

A fundraising appeal has been set up to help a family of five who are lucky to be alive after an explosion and fire in their flat.

Joanne King, her partner and her three children lost everything they possessed in the blaze.

Among the items destroyed were son Riley's presents, all bought and wrapped in readiness for his10th birthday today.

Baby Freddie, Lola and Riley lost all their toys and clothes in the fire - including Riley's unopened birthday presents.

Riley was in the bedroom with his five-year-old cousin Jack when the drama broke out at the council-owned flat in Fullers Slade flat on Thursday evening.

Mum Joanne was sitting just outside the front door with her younger children, Lola, five, and one-year-old Freddie, when she heard an "almighty bang".

"The boiler in the airing cupboard had exploded. Within seconds the flat was full of smoke - it was terrifying," she said.

She and partner Bobby rushed to rescue Riley and little Jack, who was sleeping in bed, as well as their three dogs.

The Caldecote Arms has offered a free birthday meal for the family

"Riley dragged Jack out of bed and we got them out just as the flat burst into flames," said Joanne.

"If it had been hours later, when we were all sleeping, I dread to think what would have happened. We could have all been killed."

Disturbingly none of the flat's smoke alarms went off until some time after the explosion, despite the huge quantity of smoke.

"It so was thick you couldn't see across the room," said Joanne. "Bobby and I sleep in the living room with the baby because it is only a two bedroom flat. If we'd all been asleep it would have been impossible to get us all all in time."

It is believed an electrical fault in the airing cupboard, where the boiler is housed, was the cause of the problem, said Joanne, who says she had repeatedly reported to the council that the boiler was faulty.

The Moorfoot flat is now officially uninhabitable and MK Council has put the family up at the Travelodge hotel in Old Stratford.

They were left with just the clothes they stood up in, which in Joanne's case was her pyjamas. Two of the dogs have had to be rehomed and all the family's furniture has been ruined.

"We were left with nothing," said Joanne. "And the hotel not ideal at all. There's nowhere to cook and I can't even heat up the baby milk . The council says the repairs to the flat will take until the beginning of next year so I don't know what we're going to do."

Today was Riley's first day back at school as well as his birthday. The local community rallied round to replace some of his presents, which included a Fortnite water gun, Minecraft blocks and headphones for his PlayStation.

"People have been really kind," said Joanne, who works at Dobbies garden centre. "My cousin started a fundraising page to help us replace our possessions and it's raised £500."

You can view the page here.

Meanwhile, kind hearted bosses at the Caldecote pub have offered a free meal for the family to celebrate Riley's birthday tonight.

"We're really looking forward to it," said Joanne. "It's hard to have a birthday party when you're stuck in a hotel room!"

The Citizen has asked Milton Keynes Council if it plans to rehouse the family to more suitable temporary accommodation and whether there is a chance they could be moved permanently from the overcrowded flat.

We are awaiting a reply.