Fire hit family thank friends who came to aid

Jenni and Paul Osborne with Sue and Martyn Thompson, who are repairing their house which was left da

Jenni and Paul Osborne with Sue and Martyn Thompson, who are repairing their house which was left damaged by a fire in their boy's bedroom. Photo: George Ryan - Credit: George Ryan

Friends have come to the aid of a family whose home was severely damaged by a fire.

Martyn Thompson found his sons Liam, 8, and Keiran, 9, who both have autism, surrounded by black smoke after a blaze broke out in their bedroom last Sunday.

The 41-year-old, who lives in St George’s Road with his wife Sue and six children, said the first thing he tried to do was get his children to safety when he heard the smoke alarm going off just before 8am.

Mr Thompson said: “The flames were so high and the heat and the smoke were so strong. I thought I was dreaming.

“I still have that horrifying picture in my mind of my two sons just staring at the fire.”

Despite his efforts to get him out of the house, Mr Thompson’s 17-year-old son, Daniel, had to be rescued from the roof by firefighters after he climbed out to safety.

No-one was injured in the fire, but the boy’s bedroom was left wrecked, with clothes, furniture and toys so damaged they had to be thrown out.

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The rest of the house was left with extensive smoke damage. The family had no insurance for the house.

Mr Thompson said: “The smoke damage is quite severe. It is black everywhere and everything in the house smelt of smoke. The bedroom is a write-off. We need to get all new furniture.”

“If the smoke alarms did not go off I don’t want to contemplate what could have happened.” He added that the fire service had since donated five thermal fire detectors to be placed around the home.

The community has now got together to organise donations for the Thompsons to help replace what they lost.

Family friend Paul Osborne, 58, who lives nearby in Kent Square, said: “They all came round the evening after the fire for a bit of support and we offered them accommodation if they needed it, but they were able to stay in their home.”

His wife, Jenni, posted on Facebook on Monday asking friends for clothes for the boys and quickly got received offers of donations.

Mr Osborne, who has four children and six grandchildren, said: “People have really rallied round and we’ve already been able to give Martyn and Sue three bags of clothes for the boys and there is still more to come.

“Hopefully it will be enough to keep them going until they get back on their feet.”

The boy’s schools, Parkside in Norwich and Sheringham Woodfields, have also donated clothes for the family.

Mr Thompson praised the emergency services’ response, which he said was amazing.

“Normally you don’t give the ambulance or fire brigade a thought in daily life, but when something happens and they are here in three or four minutes you realise who fortunate we are.

“It’s only when something happens you realise the amazing service we have in this country.

“I can’t praise the fire service enough. All the services should get recognition for what they do.”

Mr Thompson, who himself has Asperger’s syndrome, praised one particular fire fighter who helped during the ordeal.

“The lady fire fighter from Blue Watch was absolutely amazing. Because of my condition I think she knew how to help me and calm me.”

He said he wanted to thank his friends Paul and Jenni, adding: “To take the time out of their busy lives working at the James Paget, it means a lot.

“Our friend Linda Smith has also been a rock to the family. She was here and sat and had a chat with us and her children offered to help us.

“When something like this happens people come out of the woodwork to help. It has restored my faith a bit. You start seeing the people who really care.”