Fire leaves Eastbourne family with nothing

Tania Welch and her daughters
Tania Welch and her daughters
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A MUM-OF-TWO has spoken about the ‘horrific’ fire which ripped through and gutted her family home recently.

Tania Welch, 27, was woken by a fire alarm at 11pm on Thursday (September 22) and grabbed both her daughters and escaped from the back door of the burning Percival Road house in Hampden Park.

Tania told the Herald, “I heard the smoke alarm and I looked down the stairs and could see smoke coming from the front room.

“I grabbed my six-year-old and put her over my shoulder and then I got my 14-month-old under my arm.”

Tania ran from her burning terrace home in her night clothes and knocked on the neighbours doors, who also evacuated their houses as they feared the fire might spread.

Tania’s children Tayla Welch, 14 months, and Lydia Arnold, six, were both checked by the paramedics at the scene. The youngsters were found to be unharmed however, Tania says her eldest daughter has been ill because of the shock of the incident.

Emergency services later told Tania that if she and her children had woken up two or three minutes later they may not have been so lucky because the stairs, which run through the middle of the house, would have been ablaze.

“Once we got out of the house, it is all a bit hazy,” said Tania. “I went to my friend’s house and she was making me sweet tea because I was having panic attacks - I couldn’t breath.”

Tania returned to the gutted house earlier this week because the fire service told her some items in the kitchen may be salvageable. She was also allowed to look around the rest of the house.

“It was horrific and I was shaking,” she said.

“There might be a few bits in the kitchen we can save but everything else is just melted. It is like there was nothing ever in the lounge - it is just black.

“I also had to be really careful going up the burnt stairs.”

Tania, who currently has one set of clothes which she has borrowed from her mum, says the furniture and belongings she has built-up over the last seven years have been reduced to ashes and she is struggling to buy clothes for her children with the benefits she receives.

She said, “Thanks to the kind people who have donated things for my six-year-old, she has got some clothes but my youngest has got three baby grows and one outfit to her name.

“I don’t care about myself but I just want to make sure that my children have clothes,” said Tania.

Little Tayla has development problems and is in need of toys for children aged around six months to help restore some normality to her life.

The family also lost sentimental items in the devastating fire.

Tania’s sister Michelle Harris died from sudden adult cardiac arrest at just 25 and the ornaments and photographs which Tania bequeathed all went up in flames.

The family of three is currently staying with Tania’s mum in Lewes as they make efforts to be rehomed in Eastbourne.

Despite the ordeal, Tania is now warning others about the importance of smoke alarms.

She told the Herald, “I have told all my friends to check their alarms are working.

“Some people don’t want them because the cooker sometimes sets them off but it is so important to have them - they can save your life.”

Police and fire investigators have ruled out arson and Tania says she is at loss to think how the blaze could have started.