A FAMILY have been forced out of their home after fire struck next door.

Leanne Halling and her partner Adam Jones had been living in their semi-detached house in Ramsons Close, Malvern, until their neighbour’s home was gutted by a fire which started on the first floor on Thursday, February 23.

The fire caused smoke to invade their groundfloor, it is believed through the adjoining wall, killing their 10-week-old puppy Roxy as it slept in the kitchen.

The couple, who lived at the house with their children, eight-year-old Callum and three-year Charlie, have an immediate problem as they had not bought housing insurance – which Miss Halling admits was an oversight on her part. They are now left with a smoke-logged ground floor, damaged carpets and plaster work.

Both homes are owned by Festival Housing, which says it is still totting up the scale of the damage.

Festival has also offered alternative accommodation to the family, Miss Halling says when staff from Festival visited following the fire the couple were told the smoke had somehow got in through gaps in the wall.

She says the gaps in the wall are not supposed to be there and could have been caused by workmen em-ployed by Festival to remove a gas fire and replace it with an electric one.

Since the fire, maintenance workers have been to check the fireplace, removing the frontage from the wall. However, they did not put it back so the family were left to clean up and with a fireplace sitting in their living room.

The family are now staying with relatives, turning down the offer of rehoming from the housing association.

“The downstairs is a state,” said Miss Halling. “There’s black everywhere, and it smells of smoke.

“My problem is this wasn’t our fault, this is a fault with the brickwork and if there had not been any gaps in the fire wall we would not have had the smoke we had in here. But Festival says it is not liable.”

Miss Halling did praise firefighters who tried to resuscitate their puppy.

Steve Vizard, Festival’s mainentence chief, said the scale of the damage was still being assessed.

“We’ve been quick to react to the fire and have made sure the neighbours’ homes are safe to live in,” he said. “Investigations continue into the damage caused by the fire and we will make sure we keep all of the residents informed of progress.

“We regularly give our tenants advice on the need to have contents insurance as our insurance cover only extends to the building structure.”

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service say the cause of the blaze next door was a faulty television.