Letchworth house an ‘eyesore’ after no work in months, say neighbours

Firefighters at the scene in May. Picture: Hitchin Fire Station

Firefighters at the scene in May. Picture: Hitchin Fire Station - Credit: Archant

A fire-hit house in Letchworth remains virtually untouched since a big blaze wrecked it six months ago, with neighbours claiming the “eyesore” has been forgotten about.

The fire broke out at a house in Newells on May 19 this year and, while nobody was injured, the flames and smoke caused extensive damage.

In the wake of the blaze, residents on the Jackmans Estate pulled together to help raise money for the three sets of families affected.

But now neighbours have become concerned that the property most badly hit has been forgotten about, given that no repairs seem to have been made.

Michael Pye’s home was one of those affected, and he told the Comet that living next door to the wreckage has caused him great embarrassment.

“They came to lock up the property a couple of days after the fire and put a sign on the front door, and no one has been back since,” he said.

“There would have been food inside, so I would not be surprised if rats have been attracted. I dread to think what it is like inside.

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“The recent heavy winds took the last few slates off the roof, so now there is no roof at all. This is what I’ve had to live through for the last six months.

“We couldn’t have people round for barbecues in the summer because it’s just embarrassing, the back of the house is worse than the front.

“I look after my house, and then this happens and I have to see this eyesore every day. We should not have to put up with it,

“I’ve called North Herts Homes and the environmental health team so many times and so have some of my neighbours, and they are just fobbing everyone off.

“You pay your rent every month and this is how we get treated. It’s worse now because all of the tiles have come off. It’s like living next to a shack.”

Recalling the aftermath of the blaze, which required four fire engines and an aerial ladder platform to tackle, Michael added: “Two weeks after the fire the council took out all my loft insulation, and they never put it back. After three weeks, they told me that everything had been checked and it was safe to move back in. That afternoon I put my heating on and three bulbs blew out of the ceiling.”

Shaun Holdcoft, executive director of customer experience at North Herts Homes, said: “Following a fire at the property earlier this year the damage to the property was extensive.

“We have been working since that time with our insurers to investigate the fire and to confirm the work required at the property which we will shortly agree.

“By its nature this process is lengthy given the extent of the damage and we are grateful for the patience of the local community while we work towards the redevelopment of the property.”