A FAMILY of five have been left homeless after a bonfire ember set their bungalow on fire.

The blaze at their smallholding has left them with nothing but each other, their 10 dogs, five fish, an oil painting and a teddy bear.

The family thought they had put the bonfire out on Saturday evening, August 6 but less than half an hour later their home, in Alresford Road, near Morn Hill, was burning down after the bonfire erupted back into life.

Mary Sparkes, 62, has lived in the property all her life, with the building belonging to her grandparents before her. Treetops, in Alresford Road is now home to Mary, husband Christopher, 67, daughter Amy, 33, and two grandchildren Emelia, aged two, and Clara, 11.

Hampshire Chronicle: The damage to the exterior. Treetops, Alresford Road

Mary, her daughter and grandchildren have moved in temporarily with daughter Becky Sparkes-Owen in her three-bedroom flat in Kings Worthy. Meanwhile, husband Chris has been sleeping in a tent in the garden to look after the dogs and the rest of the smallholding.

Mary and Becky left Amy alone at the property once they thought the bonfire was safely out before 7pm. But approximately 15 minutes later they received a call from Amy to come back as the bungalow was on fire.

Amy said: “At the time I just thought oh my God what is happening, but I rang the fire service. I put the hose on and tried to put it out but it didn’t work.

“I got all the dogs out and put them in my mum’s car. But I couldn’t find my little whippet and I said I needed to go back in, but the fire fighters wouldn’t let me and they found her and brought her out. And then we just sat and watched.

“I was then in hospital all of Sunday night for smoke inhalation and let out Monday morning at 6am.”

Mary said: “I felt numb, it still doesn’t feel real. I wake up at Becky’s house and it’s fine but then you remember everything that has happened. Next hopefully we can sort out a way of restarting with the insurance company.

“Lots of people have people have been offering their support and it’s great to have it but unfortunate that we’re in this position.

“We lost everything to the fire apart from Tinkerbell the teddy bear and a big oil painting of the house, but it is the small things that matter and we’re all safe and well.”

The firefighters also managed to retrieve all five of the children’s new goldfish.

Hampshire Chronicle: Firefighters battling the blaize

Mary added: “The fire crews were amazing, so regimentally run and they kept making sure we were alright.”

Becky, 37, now has her mum, sister, her two nieces as well her husband and her own three children living at their three-bedroom flat in Kings Worthy until the family know what’s next.

With nine people living there, Becky said: “It’s pretty cramped at home.

READ MORE: Hampshire firefighters called to bungalow fire- caused by bonfire- in Alresford Road, Winchester leaving family homeless

The mum of three continued: “It’s going to be a complete knock down and start again job. What hasn’t been damaged by the fire has been damaged by water or by smoke, so all the soft furnishings and clothes have gone. We’ve got a few photos that were just about salvageable.

“It’s going to be a big job. Absolutely no idea of the time scale.

“One side of the house it looks as though there’s nothing wrong but then as you go round the corner you can see the horrific damage and then you go inside and it’s completely wow.

“We all felt like idiots because we heard people saying you had a bonfire in this heat, you know the ground is dry and so on. But at the same time if people knew us, they’d know that this house is always busy.

“We will most definitely think more before having bonfires. That is a definite, that won’t be happening. But it wasn’t lit on purpose.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Treetops, Alresford Road two days after the fire.

The fire was eventually stopped by around 12.40am, early Sunday, by fire crews from Winchester, Alresford, Eastleigh, Whitchurch, Alton, Hightown and Redbridge using jets, hose reels and the ultra-high-pressure lance. The fire was so intense that 16 firefighters had to wear breathing apparatus.

The number of emergency vehicles led to the police closing the A31, Alresford Road.

One crew returned on Sunday morning (August 7) to check for remaining hotspots.

Friend of the family, Tania Lane, has set up a GoFundMe to help raise funds for the victims and “hopefully get them tents or something else to sleep and clothes for everyone.”

For more go to gofundme.com/.

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