“We stood watching it burn, helpless. All our life, all our memories, it was everything we’ve worked for, gone.”
The poignant heartbreaking words of a family forced to flee in terror from a fire which ripped through the home they built up over 11 years.
Karen and Craig Haydon, and their three boys Taylor, Elliott and Jude, today told how a suspected electrical fault sparked a terrifying blaze which quickly engulfed their property.
All managed to escape unharmed when the fire erupted in the attic of their Bispham home shortly before midnight on Saturday.
But the psychological scars remain. The end-mews home on Corriander Close has been reduced to a shell, and all their belongings destroyed, after flames leapt up to 20 metres in the air.
The brave mother and father told how they are trying to retain normality for their children and today thanked the dozens of friends and strangers whose support and charity has helped them over the last week.
I could see the flames, I didn’t stop to see how big they were, we just had to get out.Karen Haydon
Mrs Haydon, 34, said: “We’ve lost everything, we were left with what we were stood up in. But we’re all still here. The support we’ve had has been overwhelming. Every little thing of help has made each day so far that bit better.”
The family had not long gone to bed on Saturday when the parents heard a loud bang within the house, shortly after 11pm.
Mr Haydon, 37, a former infantry soldier, said: “It was loud enough that I got out of bed to see what it was, but I thought it would just be a toy falling somewhere.
“I went onto the landing and could see this light through the attic hatch.
“I opened it and could just see fire. I shouted ‘there’s a fire, get the boys out’. It was surreal.”
The mother said: “The fire brigade said if we hadn’t heard that bang we could have been looking at a very different scenario.”
She “scooped up” her two boys, Taylor, nine, and two-year-old Jude, and the family’s puppy, Ralph, to evacuate - six-year-old Elliott was at a sleepover, oblivious to the drama unfolding until the next morning.
She said: “I got my children in my arms and got out.
“I could see the flames, I didn’t stop to see how big they were, we just had to get out.”
While they called 999 and sought refuge with neighbours, Mr Haydon stayed inside and battled to save his home, throwing buckets of water at the flames which had quickly taken hold in the roof space.
He said: “There were all these bangs, the roof tiles were popping from the pressure and we’d bought camping gear so the gas canisters went off.”
His wife, who works on the maternity ward at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, believes his army training, with the First Battalion Royal Green Jackets, was what spurred him on to attempt to battle the blaze himself.
But she has told how waiting for him to come out of the smoke logged house was agonising.
She said: “It felt like an eternity waiting for him to come back out.
“I was shouting for him to come out.”
Mr Haydon escaped unharmed, forced to watch in just his pyjamas as five fire crews, using pumps and an aerial ladder platform, spent four hours bringing the fire under control.
He said: “I was stood watching it burn, helpless.
“All our life, all our memories, it was everything we’ve worked for.”
Mrs Haydon added: “It was horrendous.”
The top floor of the home has been destroyed by the fire, while the remainder of the house is waterlogged from fire fighters battling to douse the flames.
The family are now staying in a Blackpool hotel while looking for temporary accommodation as insurers and loss assessors visit their damaged property.
It is estimated work will take around a year to rebuild the home, which will have to be taken back to its brickwork to be safely restored.
An outpouring of support from friends, family and even strangers has bolstered the family in recent days.
They say deliveries, from a cottage pie for a fresh dinner and school uniforms for the boys, who attend St Berandette’s Primary School on Devonshire Road, donations of clothes and basic toiletries, to the fireman who specially went into the hazardous building to retrieve Mrs Haydon’s treasured engagement ring, have kept them buoyed.
And they are thankful the outcome was no worse.
Mrs Haydon said: “We are so lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful, caring people.
“It’s 11 years of our lives we’ve lost but we will get there, we will get it all back.”