Hitchin homeless man left with nothing as mystery blaze hits again

M&CO fire. Picture: Nadine Price.

M&CO fire. Picture: Nadine Price. - Credit: Archant

A homeless man who had all his possessions destroyed after an unexplained fire in the centre of Hitchin on Christmas Eve has had the same thing happen again – with calls now being made to house him.

Linda Hallidae.

Linda Hallidae. - Credit: Archant

A fire at the back of the M&CO store in Paynes Park at around 6pm last Wednesday was quickly put out by a crew from Hitchin fire station, but the man’s personal belongings were destroyed.

Many people responded to calls on social media by helping provide bedding, food and new clothing – mirroring the heartening festive response at the end of 2015.

Linda Hallidae was one of the people who used Facebook to help at Christmas and has also stepped in this time around.

She said: “I just feel like the guy deserves a break. He’s such a lovely man but he’s been down on his luck.


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“I would really like him to be housed – even if it’s just a bedsit.

“He’s a very intelligent person who had assembled a collection of books through people donating them to him – but they’ve all been destroyed in the fire. He said he had his passport destroyed as well.

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“It’s the Hitchin spirit to help people – no-one likes to see anyone suffer and it’s great to see everyone really round and help again.

“Hopefully something can be done to help him in the long term.”

Nadine Price, who lives in Queen Street and also helped after the Christmas blaze, saw the smoke from the fire rise up in Hitchin town centre and went to investigate.

As she got approached M&CO and saw the fire, she realised the same homeless man had been affected.

She said: “It’s heartbreaking. I know he used to read books. I’m sure he used to have a collection of classic books which were burnt in the fire.

“I posted the picture of the fire on Facebook and immediately people responded with help which was great to see. I just hope he can get some housing.”

A police spokesman said officers are looking into CCTV coverage of the area and keeping those affected up to date. If you have information about the fire call police on 101.

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