A FAMILY left homeless when their house was devastated by fire have thanked those who have come to their aid.

Michelle Telford, her five children and granddaughter, are staying in a bed and breakfast while they wait for news from their housing association, Genesis Homes.

Their house, in Maine Crescent, Rayleigh, was gutted by a fire on Saturday morning after Mrs Telford’s daughter, Laura, 17, noticed flames coming from the plug socket in her mother’s bedroom.

The Red Cross provided clothes for the family after Mrs Telford was left with just the underwear and the night dress she was wearing when she fled the blaze.

Mrs Telford, 44, said: “It was really heartbreaking seeing everything get destroyed.

We have been in a bed and breakfast for the first few nights but we don’t know what we’re doing now.

“I am very grateful to everyone who has helped us though. They have been marvellous.

“My dogs had nowhere to go but our neighbours have put them up. Others have helped wash the few clothes we had that might be salvageable as well.

“Two women from the Red Cross came and gave us some clothes and an emergency washbag as well.

“They didn’t leave either until they knewwe had somewhere to go. They just sat with us and made cups of tea.

“They were wonderful.”

Although it appears the fire started from the faulty plug socket, the exact cause has not been determined and is under investigation by the fire service.

Mrs Telford added: “I am not holding anyone responsible for it.”

The housing association has arranged for a surveyor to review the damage and booked contractors to board up the windows to secure the property.

A Genesis spokesman said: “We liaised closely with the family and said we would source and cover the cost of alternative temporary accommodation for them, in accordance with our usual procedures.

“Unfortunately, there was no availability at approved hotels within the immediate catchment area, given the large size of the family and high levels of seasonal demand.

“On Ms Telford’s suggestion, we booked them into another hotel, which was further away.

“We are in close contact with the family and will arrange for them to move to a more local hotel once one becomes available, as well as finding them a suitable property in the longer termshould the scale of the repair works make this necessary.”