A hotelier who lost everything in a devastating fire which tore through her building today revealed she needs £60,000 to re-build her business and home.
The Astoria Guest House, on Albert Road, Blackpool, was ravaged when a blaze ripped through the property on January 20.
Hotelier, 48-year-old Valerie Wallace was at the cinema with her husband Tony when the fire, which is believed to have started when a tumble dryer malfunctioned, broke out.
The grandparents are now living with friends as they battle insurance companies and banks to secure the money they need to start repairing their shattered lives.
The hoteliers are unable to claim the money from their insurance company because they were told the tumble dryer should not have been plugged in while the property was empty. That has left them needing to find the huge sum.
Mrs Wallace said: “The last few months have been absolutely horrendous and everything will be taken from us.
“Nobody can help us or advise us and we don’t know anyone who’s been through the same situation. It is so bad.
“We were at the cinema and someone came running in to tell us the Astoria was on fire. It was surreal and we didn’t take it in until we got to the bottom of the street and saw the fire engines and the smoke billowing from the hotel.”
She added: “I don’t know if we will ever get back into this hotel.
“It could take 12 months to get in, but if the bank says ‘you’re not getting any money from us’ then they are going to take everything we have worked for. Having to rely on other people is really bad.
“We are staying with friends and they are looking after us the best they can, but unless we get £60,000 from somewhere we will lose the hotel. We need to get £132 to pay for a fire report and give it to the solicitors, but we can’t even afford that.
“I’m now relying on getting sick pay, but I haven’t been able to get that since March.”
Around 75 firefighters tackled the blaze as 15ft flames spread. Neighbouring hotels were evacuated as 16 firefighters entered the burning home because they feared the owners were inside, while a cordon was set up around the town centre street.
Fire engines from across the Fylde coast and Blackburn were drafted in to fight the fire as it quickly spread through the hotel’s central heating vents. The first crews on the scene were faced with a substantial fire, fuelled by towels and bedding found in one of the rooms, and almost every part of the hotel was badly damaged.
Owner of The Treganna Hotel, Sam Neville, 53, has let the couple stay in a private part of his hotel since they were forced to move out.
He was one of the first on the scene and watched on in horror as the fire took hold.
He said: “We weren’t too sure if they were in there for about half an hour.
“I opened the front door and could see all the smoke and decided to leave it.
“The next thing I knew, the fire brigade and police were here and it was mayhem.
“There were a lot of firemen and a huge great fire engine on the front, but we were worried about the safety of our friends. But somebody got hold of them and ran into the cinema to get them.”