A family have described how they fled for their lives after discovering the hotel they were staying in was on fire.
The Bakers were one of 12 families staying in winter let apartments at the Sea Lane Hotel in Ingoldmells when fire broke out, destroying everything they owned, on Friday afternoon.
‘My daughter Kate grabbed the babies, one under each arm and legged it out the building’Anthony Baker
The building was quickly engulfed in flames and had to be demolished for safety reasons yesterday.
Within hours the community has been rallying round to help the homeless victims with food, household goods and money to get them back on their feet.
Anthony Baker, 45, a DJ at a local bar, and his wife Sharon, 44, had been staying at the hotel with their three children, Luke, 21, Adam, 18 and Kate, 16, since the beginning of November.
Mr Baker said: “It has been unreal how many people have rallied round and helped us out.”
He recalls going downstairs outside for a cigarette on Friday before midday when the fire started. He said: “There was smoke billowing everywhere and I looked up and the roof was on fire.
“I ran back up and told everybody it was a fire and they needed to get out. It wasn’t until it was actually on fire that the alarms went off. If it had been night time we would have all been dead.”
He said another resident, Letitia, has two babies aged nine months and 18 months: “My daughter Kate grabbed them, one under each arm and legged it out the building with them. Letitia said if it wasn’t for Kate she would have lost her babies. The youngest was still in bed and only in her nappy.
“Kate was absolutely brilliant.”
He added: “Everyone outside was shocked, coughing and crying.”
Saddened, he said that Dee, another resident, had lost her two cats and a tortoise in the fire, although one of his sons and Connor, the hotel manager tried beating the door in to free them, but the smoke became too much. Anthony and another of his sons ran in and dragged their own dogs out of their flat.
Anthony said: “We were pulling the dogs out of the flat and the roof was caving in above us as we were trying to get the dogs. It spread really quickly and by the time the first fire engine came it was ablaze.”
Mr Baker said: “A lot of the families have been put up in the Charnwood Hotel in Skegness and a couple of families have been put up in caravans in Ingoldmells and Chapel St Leonards.”
The couple both work at Woodthorpe Garden Centre, which is owned by the same company as Chapel Garden Centre which has become a collection point for donations and the company have put the family up until January in one of its caravans on Woodthorpe Park.
The family normally spend most of the year living in a caravan at Chapel St Leonards but that is closed for the winter until March and so Mr Baker is unsure what they will do for accommodation until the park re-opens.
He said: “We had to take all our possessions out of the caravan for the winter so we have lost everything.”
Mr Baker believes their possessions are covered by the hotel insurance but after a meeting with other residents he has learned that as the building had to be demolished the insurance company could take up to a year to settle the claim.
He said no-one seems to know for sure how the fire started until investigations are completed.
Mr Baker said Tesco, Morrisons, the Salvation Army and local shops and businesses have all been helping out, with lots of donations going to the Charnwood Hotel to be distributed to the families.
He said: “We are going there most days and it is good to meet up again with the other families. We got to know each other as we were all staying in winter lets and used to chat together into the early hours - being separated is strange.”
He also thanked the garden centre where they work whose staff have donated money and bags of clothing, as well as Mark and Lewis at the Charnwood Hotel for their support.