UK heatwave: Fire leaves widower with arm tattoo as the only image of his late wife

  • Watch our report from Rob Setchell

A widower who lost his wife three years ago says a devastating house fire has destroyed all his photographs - leaving him with only a tattoo on his arm to remember her by.

Keith Gant and his wife Olwen had been married for 40 years before her death at the age of 64 in 2019.

He watched as the home they had shared in Ashmanhaugh in Norfolk went up in flames on the hottest day on record, as temperatures in the county approached 40C.

“I feel devastated," Mr Gant told ITV News Anglia.

“There are a lot of memories [in the house]. My wife and I had a lot of happy days here. I lost her three years ago and now everything is gone.”

The house is now gutted, with its roof destroyed and windows melted, and Mr Gant's possessions - including his cameras and the priceless picture wall bearing photographs of Olwen - gone forever.

“Nobody expected this," he said. "I think it’s going to hit me later on.” 

  • Fire crews battled to contain the blaze from spreading in Ashmanhaugh

He said he had been sitting at home watching TV and, having drawn his blinds to keep his house cool, was unaware that fire was approaching the house.

A field behind the house, which he had lived in for three decades, had caught alight and the blaze started rapidly spreading. 

After hearing his smoke alarm sound, Mr Gant went upstairs and looked outside. 

“I drew the curtains and there were just flames looking at me and smoke," he said.

“The wind was blowing ever so hard. Smoke was blowing here, and flames were up the trees.” 

Mr Gant - and his neighbours who lost their home - thanked other members of the community for their support.

With only the clothes on his back after his escape, he relied on a local charity shop to give him something new to wear.

The fire was among more than 280 across Norfolk on the UK's hottest day on record, when the fire service said it received more than 4,600 calls.

As well as the homes destroyed at Ashmanhaugh, a row of houses at Ashill was gutted, while acres of previous coastal parkland was torched at Wild Ken Hill, site of the BBC's Springwatch programme.

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