An Andover community has rallied round a young family whose home caught fire last night (April 5).

Residents of Herons’ Rise have bought food, clothing and toys for the family living in Number 14, where the upper floor caught fire after a candle set the carpet alight. The upper floor is damaged by fire, while the rest of the building is smoke damaged.

“Thankfully this is an amazing community,” said Freya, with neighbours offering to put her and her family up until the house is fixed.

“I’ve never known a community like it. Honestly, we could not have better neighbours.”

Fire crews were called to the property at 23:58 on Monday, April 5, after a candle caught fire in the property. Freya told the Advertiser about the moments the blaze began.

“We normally keep a candle in the corner behind the door,” she said. “Normally, we keep it in a glass holder but this was the one time we didn’t. Thankfully, the fire alarm got me up.”

After being woken by the alarm, Freya pulled back the door to find a “little wall of fire” licking up the edge of the property. Her shouts woke her partner, Ryan, who attempted to smother the flames with a duvet. Sadly, it didn’t work.

“I shouted for everyone to get out,” said Freya. “It’s such a blur after that. I don’t know what we did but we did it.”

Freya, Ryan, and one-year old Kaiden managed to get out of the house quickly, as well as their dogs. At this point, other neighbours became aware of the fire.

“I can’t believe how quickly it took hold,” said neighbour Heather. “I came out and it was already on fire. The fire brigade came within minutes.”

She said she felt “terrible” for the family, while her own home as also suffered damage from the fire.

Another neighbour, Norman, described the ‘hellish’ scene when he was awoken by the fire.

“I was in bed,” he said. “It was like a scene from Dante’s Inferno when I looked out the kitchen window.”

Meanwhile, the house’s landlord, Graham, had just come off a night shift when he got the news.

“I have to try and get my head around it,” he said. “When I was told a candle took hold of the carpet, I didn’t realise it would be this bad.”

While the family were taken to hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation, neighbours began to rally round as the fire was put out at 01:23.

“Thankfully this is an amazing community,” said Freya. “I’ve never known a community like it. Honestly, we could not have better neighbours.”

Neighbours donated clothes, food and toys to the family following the fire, who now have to sort through all the goodwill they’ve received. One of their neighbours is letting them stay, with their dogs, while Graham arranges for insurers to assess the property so rebuilding can begin.

“It’s like a big family,” said Freya. “They’re happy to keep us. One of the dogs bolted but we got him back quickly as everyone went searching.”

She added: “It’s sad the possessions are gone but they can be replaced.”

The family, and their neighbours, are hopeful that they will be able to restore their home, and return to their lives before the fire. However, there will be one change in their lives.

Freya said: “I’m not a candle fan anymore.”