A MOTHER has said her family have struggled "to get back to reality" after a fire forced them from their home.

Danielle Evans's maisonette in Falkland Road, Popley, was severely damaged by smoke after a fire broke out in the property below last Thursday (January 14).

Now, the mother of two has revealed that her life has been turned upside down by the aftermath of the blaze, with most of her belongings destroyed and her family forced into temporary accommodation.

Danielle, partner Niki and their two children - aged seven years and six months - were woken early on the morning of January 14 after the blaze started directly below their first floor maisonette.

The residential home worker had woken and was dressing her infant when she heard a popping noise from outside her window.

"It sounded like fireworks were going off. It was weird how I knew exactly what it was, I looked out the window and you could just see the smoke.

"As soon as I heard it we just got straight out of there. We were outside on the grass verge straight away.

Basingstoke Gazette:

"We were lucky."

But it was after the fire, believed to have been caused by a charger, that the real devastation began for Danielle. The family home, which had been collecting memories for years, had been severely damaged by smoke.

Furniture, clothes and even her daughter's home school work had all been destroyed.

"The smell was unbelievable. We salvaged the photos and memory boxes but it was not worth keeping the rest of the stuff.

"Even washing some of the clothing, the smell was unbelievable. It is so gutting to go back and see it."

The young family were put in temporary accommodation by Vivid, with their insurance company saying it is likely to be years before they can return. But Danielle admits that the big struggle has been "trying to get back to reality".

"The worst thing about it is that we can do nothing. At the minute it feels like we are living in a hotel.

"They are telling us to keep bidding [on properties], but we need somewhere to live," she told The Gazette, adding that soon her and her husband will have to go back to work.

She described the last week as "hectic", continuing: "I can't remember who I spoke to or who I thanked. Everything is a complete blur."

Whilst her family and friends have rallied around to support the family, bringing them food parcels, and the community have set up two fundraising pages to try and help, the 29-year-old said the Covid pandemic makes it "the worst time" to be dealing with such a crisis.

"At a time like this you need family, but at the moment we can't have it.

Basingstoke Gazette:

"I don't know if it will ever sink in."

The fundraisers, including one set up by Team Knowhow, whom Niki works for, has so far raised more than £1,700.

The page which is raising money for the delivery driver reads: "The fire didn't start in his flat, it started on the ground floor. All their possessions are lost due to smoke damage.

"Times are tough for us all at the moment, but put yourself in Niki's shoes - imagine if you lost everything, you would want the support of your fellow work colleagues."

You can find them by clicking here and here.

Firefighters from Basingstoke and Rushmoor were scrambled to attend the blaze in Popley on January 14, shortly after 6am.

The ground floor maisonette was 100 per cent destroyed by fire.

Two of the occupants were taken to hospital by SCAS for smoke inhalation.

Danielle thanked the firefighters and British Red Cross for helping them, adding: "You don't realise what they do until it happens to you."