A MAN who escaped with his life after fire ravaged his home is suing Basildon Council for negligence.

Barry Maicher, 55, is launching legal action following the huge blaze at Bockingham Green, on the Felmores estate, during which 90 homes were evacuated, and ten destroyed.

Mr Maicher, who has appointed a solicitor, lost all his belongings in the November 13 inferno, and is one of those left homeless.

He is adamant the council didn’t react quick enough and get rid of the dumped sofa outside his home, which arsonists lit to start the inferno.

He claims it was there for around a month. However, the council said the abandoned furniture was never reported.

Mr Maicher also wants compensation for sickness and stress. He said: “I’ve got a sworn affidavit from someone who saw that sofa outside those homes on October 13.

“It doesn’t matter if it was reported or not, the council should be looking after the area and cleaning these things up.

“Since the fire, I have suffered from panic attacks.”

Mr Maicher said the aftercare for victims had been awful, and many have been left ill from stress.

He said many residents were still not allowed to return to their homes, which have been declared structurally unsafe, to recover belongings.

Mr Maicher, who is now living in temporary housing in Brook Road, Wickford, also said Basildon Council employing 24-hour security to monitor the site was not working, as yobs had scaled fencing twice within four days.

He added: “I was on the estate for two-and-a-half hours on Friday, and I only saw security once at the back of the estate.”

Rab Fallon, Basildon Council’s head of housing services, said: “A security team remain on patrol in the area, as they have done 24 hours a day, since the fire.

“The only incident with security was on December 1, when a group of young people tried to get through the barrier, but were escorted away by police, following a call to them from the security staff.

“There have been no further incidents that we are aware of, or which have been reported to us.

“Any residents seeing anything suspicious should inform the security staff on site, immediately.”

SOFA IS CONFIRMED AS FIRE STARTER ARSONISTS who targeted an abandoned sofa and two armchairs did spark the mass Felmores estate blaze, it has been confirmed.

The flames from the sofa and chairs quickly spread to the nearby timber-framed homes, which went up within minutes.

Three residents, including Barry Maicher and his 20-year-old daughter, Nikki, had to climb down to safety from their windows, after the fire left them trapped.

Two weeks ago, Gary Edwards, Basildon Council’s head of street scene and leisure, insisted the furniture was “not the cause”, as he issued a warning to residents to report abandoned furniture.

However, Sarah Thapa, spokeswoman for Essex Fire and Rescue Service, confirmed: “The settee was a factor in the fire’s development, as well as two armchairs.

“The investigation into the fire has now been completed, and it has been recorded as deliberate ignition.”

Rab Fallon, Basildon Council’s head of housing services, admitted the council had got it wrong.

He said: “The Council is still awaiting the fire service report.

“It is now our understanding a sofa was involved, along with other furniture.

“We reiterate, no pieces of abandoned furniture were reported.

“Had it been, the furniture would have been removed within four days as part of the council’s free special collection service. St George’s tenancy management team carried out an estate inspection of Bockingham Green on October 30, and there were no reports of an abandoned sofa.

“Residents have since informed our housing team the sofa was seen on November 3, but no residents had reported this to us.”