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Disabled man living in hotel for seven months after flat fire

Michael Gaffney's home has been boarded up and fenced off. Photo: ITV West Country

A disabled man from Trowbridge says he has become isolated and his life is unbearable after months of living in a hotel room.

A fire damaged the flat above Michael Gaffney's in January.

Seven months on he's still locked out of his home and has been told it will be another six months before he can return.

Mr Gaffney says being unable to access his home is affecting his health. Credit: ITV West Country

Mr Gaffney says the initial fire caused him a lot of distress.

It started in the flat upstairs by a discarded candle at about five o'clock in the morning. It was very frightening, especially because my cats were still in the flat, and I had a hell of a job trying to get them out.

– Michael Gaffney

He also says the wait to return home is making the situation unbearable.

Seven months on the building is boarded up but there is no sign of any repair work.

Damage to the building is still being assessed. Credit: ITV West Country

The housing association who own the building have put Mr Gaffney up at a nearby hotel.

He says he's well looked after - but it simply isn't home.

Mr Gaffney says his health has been affected by the experience of living in a hotel room.

I suffered with depression for years. And I've started having fits again. My health was bad anyway. But it's getting worse staying there because it's not my home. Number 7 Woolpack Meadows is my home.

– Michael Gaffney

Mr Gaffney's two cats are being looked after in separate catteries.

He relies on neighbours to drive him from place to place meaning he only sees them every two weeks.

My cats have been my only companions for years so being apart from them is hard. They're like kids really.

– Michael Gaffney
Michael's two cats Felix (left) and Sooty are being housed in separate catteries. Credit: Michael Gaffney

The housing association say it will be around six months more before the repairs will be finished.

There is extensive damage to the top floor of the building and the housing association say this is what is causing the delay.

They have to assess the damage and make sure the structure is still sound.

As well as the top floor of the building there is damage to the roof. Credit: ITV West Country

The association also say they are sympathetic to Mr Gaffney's situation and understand his frustration.

We are very sorry for the delay in repairing and re-building Mr Gaffney's home so that he can move back in. In these difficult circumstances, we are pleased that - at the very least - we have been able to house him in a hotel as he wishes, but we recognise it is not ideal and understand his frustration.

We are in the process of hiring specialist contractors who can carry the work out safely given the significant structural damage to the building. We have been in regular contact with Mr Gaffney and will continue to keep him informed as work progresses.

– Sanctuary Housing