Grimsby family homeless after Boxing Day fire as man faces attempted murder charge

Grimsby house fire
A blaze ripped through the rented house in Grimsby on Boxing Day

A family from Grimsby are still homeless after a huge fire destroyed their house – with a man facing charges of attempted murder and stalking.

Stephen Black, his wife Cristina and her daughter were asleep in bed on Boxing Day when the blaze started at their privately rented house.

The family say the fire has made the house uninhabitable, with a number of rooms ruined by heat and smoke damage. They have lost many of their possessions, including all of the white goods in the kitchen.

Most of the family's belongings were destroyed

But they say despite their best efforts they are struggling to find somewhere else to live.

Stephen Black said: "My friend is putting us up for now but they only have one room so we're sleeping on the floor.

"And they already rely on food banks to get by so we feel we're just adding to the struggles they already have.

"We've always been good tenants but we've been approaching agencies and they're either not getting back to us or give some reason why they can't help.

"We contacted the homeless team at the council, but they're not doing much to help us either. We're on disability benefits and universal credit so replacing things is a struggle. I just feel lost."

The fire left the house uninhabitable Credit: Family photograph

In a statement, North East Lincolnshire Council said they sympathised with the family’s situation and wanted to help them.

The statement said: "When someone finds themselves homeless in these circumstances, we have to assess the condition of the property and whether they will be able to return to their home in the future. To do this, we have to wait until the police and fire service investigation is complete.

"In the meantime, we have offered the family some temporary accommodation whilst our investigations are carried out, and all possible housing options explored, but this offer has been rejected."

The family say they would have to leave their pets behind if they accepted the offer of temporary accommodation.

Cristina Black said the animals are a part of their family, adding: "They've been through the same trauma we have so we wouldn't want to leave them and we don't have anyone to leave them with. So we're stuck."

Cristina thanked the fire service for their quick response. But she says she still wakes up at night smelling smoke, seeing flames and feeling like she can't breathe.

She said: "I've been told I might need some counselling, but for now we're just focusing on not being homeless anymore."

Since the blaze, 34-year-old Savastel Balaci has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault, two counts of sending malicious communications, and one count of stalking.