Fire family still waiting

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11 Feb 2004
The family whose home was damaged when a burning load of straw was driven through Bapchild, on 22 August, are still unable to return home.

And residents whose hedges and windows were damaged and a motor company where cars were destroyed are still fighting for insurance payouts.

Paul and Mary Willis and their son Aidan are living in a rented property in Sittingbourne until their insurance claim is settled, but their home in The Street is still boarded up.

The drama unfolded when a tractor carrying straw from Teynham to Sittingbourne caught light and the driver was forced to abandon it outside the Willis family’s 18th Century house.

Fortunately, the couple were on holiday with their 12 year old son, but they have not been able to live in the house since.

Margaret Lilliot, who lives opposite the Willis family, said she would never forget the accident. She said: “It was a terrifying experience. The driver was really scared – it was really traumatic.”

“We are taking legal action along with our neighbours, but it’s nothing compared to what the Willis family have had to put up with.”

Linda Graham, whose windows and trees were damaged by the blaze, said she was still waiting for her insurance company to pay out.

She said: We have waited long enough. I am owed thousands of pounds to replace the trees and wall, but we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.”

Cars were destroyed on the forecourt of Bapchild Motoring World when the trailer stopped in front of it. Owner of the business Peter Waddell said he had received some money, but is still waiting for the full amount.

This week, Mr Waddell said: “I am still owed £96,000 but the insurance company hasn’t come back to me.”

The tractor belonged to farmer Mt John Burden, who lives in Leysdown Road, Sheerness. He is due to appear at Sittingbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday, charged with using a vehicle with an insecure load at Bobbing roundabout the day after the fire.

This article and photographs are used with the kind permission of The Gazette & Times