Sunderland gran says 'Thank you' to community after fire destroys her home

A Sunderland grandmother says she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received since an electrical fire devastated her home.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 12:00 am

Gran-of-seven Sonia Mackel has been told she had pet Chihuahua Hollie are lucky to be alive after the blaze swept through the home they share in Rowan Avenue, Harraton, last month.

"It was an e-bike battery that was on charge at the time whenit sparked and started sending out black smoke and flames,” she said.

“I grabbed the dog and my phone. I rang the fire brigade, then I got out.”

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Sonia and Hollie
Sonia and Hollie

Sonia has not been allowed back in to examine the state of her home. “Nobody is allowed in because it is structurally unsafe,” she said.

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“The ceiling has come down in the living room and the hall.

“The fire chief did say to me that it was uninhabitable and that the fire had spread so quickly in five minutes that if I had been in any other room in the house, I would not have been able to get out.”

Fire damage is visible at the front of the house

Sonia is hopeful that the only things she really wants to recover from the house will have survived: “The one thing that does bother me is my photographs,” she said

"The structural people have said it’s okay for my daughter Angela to go in and check the cupboard, but it is not safe to go into any of the other rooms, so the good news is that the cupboard might still be standing.

Sonia has been a community volunteer in Penshaw for years and friend Katherine Mason-Gage set upo a Go Fund Me page to raise funds to help – one of two she would would create within days of each other to help with the after-effects of a fire.

The page had an initial target of £400, but has rasied more than three times as much.

Sonia has not been allowed back into the house

"We have a great community spirit in Penshaw,” said Sonia. “Katherine said to me ‘You have given to people all your life and it is time for you to to receive now’.”

Sonia has been overwhelmed by the donations and messages of support that she has received: “I would really like to say a big ‘Thank you’ for everything that everybody has done, whether it be money or donations,” she said.

"It has really helped.”

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