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Mill Road fire: Cambridge couple crowdfunding to buy furniture after blaze

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A couple who fear they may have lost everything in the Mill Road fire are crowdfunding to help them start again in a new home.

Romee Adema, 29, and Daan Leenders, 26 were asleep when a massive blaze broke out in the shop next door to their flat last week.

They are one of six households still in temporary accommodation after the fire at H Gee electrical store, which has also left businesses locked out of their premises due to fears the buildings were unstable.

Hoping to have somewhere to live by the end of the week after having to leave their flat on Mill Road following the fire are Romee Adema and Daan Leenders. Picture: Keith Heppell. (14189206)
Hoping to have somewhere to live by the end of the week after having to leave their flat on Mill Road following the fire are Romee Adema and Daan Leenders. Picture: Keith Heppell. (14189206)

And now structural engineers say parts of the buildings, which were at the centre of a huge fire on Mill Road last week (July 15), will have to be demolished to prevent them collapsing onto the street.

Romee Adema and Daan Leenders told the Cambridge Independent how they ran into the street in just their pyjamas after being roused by a smoke alarm as the fire took hold at the H Gee electrical store at around 11pm on Monday, July 15.

Romee said: “We went to bed at 10.15 so we were asleep already and then our fire alarm woke us up. At first we were wondering who had left their car alarm running again, and then we thought the sound hasn’t stopped and it’s quite close - let's get up!

Firefighters tackling blaze on Mill Road (14294236)
Firefighters tackling blaze on Mill Road (14294236)

“We went to the living room and all we could see was smoke, so after that we just grabbed our phones and ran outside.”

Fleeing the flat, which is above Taank Optometrists, the pair then realised they didn’t even have a change of clothes and they were standing in the street in their nightwear. They called a friend who offered them a place to spend the night.

Romee said: “We are very grateful to be alive and that no one was hurt but we really did walk away with nothing. We ended up having to go to the all night Tesco just wearing our night clothes to buy clothes and underwear.

“Watching the fire, it looked at first like it was going out. We thought we would probably just have smoke damage. But then the fire department had to break into our house and flood the place because the fire had spread to our roof.”

Firefighters tackle the blaze in Mill Road Picture: Keith Heppell (14294228)
Firefighters tackle the blaze in Mill Road Picture: Keith Heppell (14294228)

The next day the city council arranged for them and other displaced residents to have temporary accommodation at a budget hotel.

“We were allowed back into the flat briefly by the fire department the next day when the fire was out. We saw our furniture and all our belongings are basically just swimming with water. We don’t know how much has been lost yet. Some things may be salvaged but we won’t know until we can go back in.

“The fire damage only made it into the bathroom but all the rest of the house has smoke and water damage. The carpet was soaked - everything was soaked. It was raining water and the ceiling was hanging down. There is more than 30 per cent roof damage, so it’s unsafe to go in as it might collapse.

“We had a few minutes to grab three bags of personal items like passports, photo albums, reading books and a card game!

“We had to go in really quickly and then the city council boarded up the door so we couldn’t go in again.”

Moving into a new rented property means they will have to buy all new furniture and start again.

Realising the scale of the task, their friend Robert Moore has set up a Go Fund Me page to help buy essential items while they are waiting to hear from insurers.

H Gee from rear Mill Road electrical fire (14294223)
H Gee from rear Mill Road electrical fire (14294223)

Romee said: “One of the most difficult things is we had been planning a holiday of a lifetime to Japan next month and had saved up for two years to be able to go there. We’ve discovered that we can’t cancel and get our money back so we will have to go, but obviously our financial situation will be very different there.

“We really want to thank our friends, family, the city council, letting agencies and also our landlord who have been nothing but kind and all helping us out. They have all been so helpful.”

Robert’s crowdfunding page for the couple states: “They lived directly next to the house that was completely ablaze and their entire house and everything they owned has been destroyed. This has obviously been a tough pill to swallow for them. I've opened this fundraiser in hopes that they will have some money to help them get by until they are re-homed.”

So far the page has raised £400 for the couple. To donate, visit gofundme.com.

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