South Yorkshire fires: Maltby mum forced to watch as pets perished in blaze

A mum whose house was destroyed in a huge wildfire on the UK's hottest ever day has described how she could only watch on helplessly as her beloved pets perished.

Julianne Mansell, 35, and her three children were out when a blaze took hold of her house in Maltby, South Yorkshire, on Tuesday, 19 July.

After being alerted to what was happening and returning to the street, she was prevented from getting to the property to rescue her pets – a dog, a kitten and a rabbit.

Julianne's pet rabbit and kitten died in the incident.

Revisiting the site for the first time since the incident, Julianne told ITV News: "When I got there my house was already on fire. I was telling police 'I need to get my pets, I need to go in'. They just said 'you need to stand back'.

"By the time the fire brigade got there the whole house was in flames.

"All I could do was stand there and watch. I was watching my house burn down – I couldn't take it, I kept crying."

Homes in Maltby were destroyed in the blaze. Credit: ITV News

She said the loss of her dog, Ollie, was especially devastating.

"He has helped me through a lot," she said. "I got him when I went through depression. He has been there through everything and then the one time he needed me I couldn't save him the way he saved me, and that's hard."

The fire was one of a huge number of incidents dealt with by South Yorkshire Fire Service as temperatures hit 40C.

Homes in Kiveton Park, near Rotherham, Woodland Drive in Barnsley and Clayton village were also destroyed.

Such was the demand that the emergency services declared a major incident.

A man tries to fight the fire on Woodland Drive, Barnsley. Credit: Facebook

Julianne, who is a single mother to her three children – Maysam, 11, Malika, nine, and Elias, seven – works part-time in a school kitchen and is on universal credit. She said she could not afford home insurance and has been left with nothing.

"I have lost everything. All I had were the clothes on my back. My kids had their uniforms – and that was it," she said.

"Insurance wasn't a priority. Food and paying bills and keeping a roof over our heads was a priority. I looked into insurance but the £25 a month wasn't feasible. I had already cancelled things in the house just so we could get by each month."

The family are now staying with Julianne's mother.

A crowdfunding page set up to help them has raised more than £4,000. Julianne said she had been heartened by the generosity of people in the community.

She said: "I find it all very overwhelming. When I think about it I end up sitting and crying because of the kindness and generosity of people. People round here don't have much to give, but they have already given a lot."

She added: "I'm just looking at the positives – I have got my children, I have got amazing family. It has just left me numb, not knowing where I'm going to be, what the future holds. I have to stay strong for the kids."

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