Residents describe ‘worst nightmare’ as blaze destroys homes

Locals were evacuated from their homes in the east London village on Tuesday afternoon and taken to a nearby hotel.

19 July 2022

Residents in Wennington have described the blaze which has destroyed homes as their “worst nightmare”.

Locals were evacuated from their homes in the east London village on Tuesday afternoon as black smoke billowed into the air while flames destroyed buildings and ravaged nearby fields.

A rescue centre for residents was set up at the Premier Inn on New Road.

One elderly woman was seen crying hysterically saying: “Oh my God – the house is gone”, while her family tried to comfort her.

Summer weather July 19th 2022
Firefighters tackle a blaze in the village of Wennington (Yui Mok/PA)

Others were asking council and fire officials about whether their pets had been rescued and if their homes were still standing.

Riminta Maceikaite, 38 and her son Nikas Janulevicius, 13, said their neighbours‘ homes were burned down but as far as they can see from TV aerial shots, their house is still standing.

Ms Maceikaite said they were “very anxious“ about their home, adding: “When you look on a camera when it shows you from the sky it just freaks you out.”

Nikas said: “Our house is on the news and it’s the only house that hasn’t been burned so far.

Asked if they had seen or spoken to other residents, he said: “I saw my neighbour, he was OK, he was helping to put out the fires.”

The pair were trying to find their pet dog and cat with Ms Maceikaite saying: “The firefighters said if they heard a bark they would potentially break a door and if they’ve been rescued they supposed to have been brought here but in the main hotel they say they don’t know nothing about that.”

Summer weather July 19th 2022
A woman is comforted close to the blaze in the village of Wennington (Yui Mok/PA)

Resident Janet Hickey, 70, who has terminal pancreatic cancer, said she was forced to leave all her cancer drugs behind as they were evacuated.

She said: “I’ve got all my cancer drugs in the fridge.”

Her husband Patrick Hickey, 71, added: “We had to leave everything.”

“We’re hoping against hope that our house is still there,” he added.

Mrs Hickey said they are feeling “devastated”, adding: “We’ve been living there 50 years.

Summer weather July 19th 2022
Gladys Adarkwa, 54, from Aveley.

“I’m terminally ill so it’s not great to lose all that. I’m also an artist and all my paintings are there.”

Growing tearful she later added that she had spent 50 years building her garden and buying flowers from fairs to plant in it.

The Premier Inn also lost power for around an hour with one fire official telling the PA news agency that the fire may have hit the main power line.

Earlier in the afternoon, a group of people standing by a roundabout off the A13 with horses on leads as the fire in Wennington continues to spread.

Lizzie Pittman, from Aveley in Essex, who works at some stables by the roundabout, said she was looking after the five horses who had been removed from their stables in Wennington, which had burnt down.

Summer weather July 19th 2022
The scene of a blaze in the village of Wennington (Yui Mok/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency, Ms Pittman said: “This is your worst nightmare.

“You can see it getting closer and closer.

“People are losing their houses but that’s bricks and mortar.

“People are losing their livestock.”

Speaking about looking after the horses, she said: “We brought them here because their stable has burned down but now it’s getting near here.”

Local residents could also be heard talking to firefighters about removing other livestock from the path of the fire, with one man directing a horse trailer to pick up some pigs.

Gladys Adarkwa, 54, who lives in Aveley, said she was “very concerned” that the fire would continue to spread towards her home.

She said: “I’m so sad, we live just around the corner there and so it can happen to us and it’s scary because I love this village, I love the green here.

“This is my area so seeing it on the news I thought ‘it’s not true’ then we came and realised it was true.

“So I’m really shocked because I love the greenery in this area so I’m so upset that it’s burning, so sad.”

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.