THE owners of a bungalow destroyed in a fire were left reeling after receiving a £500 electricity bill – despite not living there for ten months.

Tom and Valerie Grant were devastated after a blaze tore through their home in Beverley Avenue, Canvey, in January, leaving them homeless.

Charred remains are all that are left of the building and their treasured belongings inside, which included a pair of shoes that belonged to the late Hollywood legend Judy Garland.

Despite this, electricity company Ovo Energy sent the couple a bill for £573.68 for electricity used between August 1 and August 31 – even though the power was switched off in the wake of the fire.

MrsGrant said: “I was absolutely shocked. I couldn’t believe it.

The first thing I thought was ‘who’s been using our electricity’ because we haven’t been there in months and the electricity meter had melted.

“When we rang up and said we weren’t going to pay that, they asked us why we hadn’t read the meter when it happened. I thought they were joking.

“As if we had the time to read it. We needed to get out straight away and afterwards we weren’t allowed back inside, because it had been burnt down. How can you go back into a fire and check an electricity meter?”

More than 30 firefighters from Canvey, Basildon, Rayleigh Weir, Leigh and Corringham spent three hours tackling the blaze, which was being fuelled by a fractured gas main.

Less than an hour into the fire, officers were forced to evacuate the home themselves for their own safety after the roof collapsed.

Jason Sharpe, customer service director at Ovo Energy, said: “We would like to apologise to Mr and Mrs Grant wholeheartedly.

“We are here to give the best possible help and advice to our customers and on this occasion we didn’t deliver that. We are currently updating all of our systems to ensure errors like this don’t happen again.

“We have written to Mr and Mrs Grant to explain the situation and hope to resolve everything to their full satisfaction as soon as possible.”