Sunderland gran flees home over collapse fears

Cannabis farm house fire on Horatio Street. Mark Steele
Cannabis farm house fire on Horatio Street. Mark Steele
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A grandmother who was rescued during a fire has fled her Sunderland home out of fear that the house next door may collapse.

Mavis Steele, 71, whose chronic lung condition has also been made worse by the soot and smoke following the blaze, has gone to stay with her daughter Sarah in Manchester.

The dramatic scene which greeted firefighters on March 15. Pic: Chris Ward.

The dramatic scene which greeted firefighters on March 15. Pic: Chris Ward.

The grandmother-of-five was rescued from her home in Horatio Street, Roker, by hero passers-by Alfredo ‘Alfie’ Romero and Chris Ward, who raised the alarm.

She was checked over by paramedics for smoke inhalation, and sought sanctuary in a neighbour’s house over the road.

Northumbria Police said they were investigating a possible cannabis farm in the loft of the fire-hit property, where the blaze appears to have started.

Almost two weeks after the fire, which happened on March 15, the damaged property still has a cordon around it.

The main concern is the house collapsing – My mother is worried sick

Mark Steele, son

Mrs Steele’s son Mark says his mother is concerned the house may collapse, and that her COPD (chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease) has taken a turn for the worse.

Mr Steele, 50, a teacher, said: “She’s that worried that she is moving down to Manchester to be with my sister.

“She has COPD that has been aggravated with the fire and the soot.

“There hasn’t been a thing done to the house next door.

Fire in Horatio Street / Cooper Street. Pic: Leon Callan.

Fire in Horatio Street / Cooper Street. Pic: Leon Callan.

“There has been no development at all. They put a fence around it and nothing has happened since.

“It’s right outside my mother’s front door, bits of slate and everything is being blown around. It’s still completely exposed and there was still a police presence last week.”

And it is not only the house next door that has been left damaged. The wall between Mrs Steele’s home and next door now has large holes, letting wind and rain into her loft. It is also covered in soot.

“It needs a complete cleaning out,” Mr Steele said. “It’s horrendous up there.

Cannabis farm house fire on Horatio Street. Mark Steele

Cannabis farm house fire on Horatio Street. Mark Steele

“It’s really upsetting that my mother has to leave her home for however many weeks to make her house habitable again.

“The main concern is the house next door collapsing.

“The roof is totally uncovered – I can’t believe it’s been left in such a state.

“My mother is worried sick.”

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “The cannabis farm at the property has been removed by police and the scene has been stood down.

“The investigation into the incident itself is ongoing and fencing will remain in place at the property as the roof remains unstable.

A fire on the corner of Cooper Street and Horatio Street in Roker. Picture: Gary Pickering.

A fire on the corner of Cooper Street and Horatio Street in Roker. Picture: Gary Pickering.

“Anyone with information about the fire that could help police should contact officers on reference 87 15/03/17.”

Coun Mel Speding, Cabinet Secretary at Sunderland city council said: “Council building control inspectors were called out immediately following the fire to inspect the house and check if the building was safe.

“This included inspecting the party wall between the house and the property next door to make sure it was safe.

“The house itself was fenced off on the advice of building control officers until the necessary repairs could be carried out.

“Responsibility for carrying out the repairs themselves rests with property owner.

“It would appear that work has now started on site with the removal of the collapsed roof over the weekend.

“If the lady has any on-going concerns about the safety of the property we would encourage her to get in touch with our building control team.”

Cannabis farm house fire on Horatio Street. Mark Steele

Cannabis farm house fire on Horatio Street. Mark Steele