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Coronavirus-stricken pregnant woman homeless as fire destroys home

A pregnant ex-Virgin Atlantic stewardess who tested positive for Covid-19 has been left homeless after a fire destroyed her house on Christmas Day.

Keira Sanded, 34, faces months in temporary accommodation after her partner, who was also unwell at the time, took food out of the oven and fell asleep before the couple woke to find a blaze in their kitchen.

The mother-of-two from Newhaven, East Sussex, is 21 weeks pregnant with her third child and was made redundant in September after 13 years in her job.

The following week her father died from coronavirus

Keira Sanded (pictured above), 34, faces months in temporary accommodation after a fire destroyed her house in Newhaven, East Sussex, on Christmas Day

Ms Sanded told The Argus: ‘It’s just been a year of devastation. It’s just been one thing after another.’  

She contracted the disease herself days before Christmas and on December 25 was self-isolating with her partner Wayne Barrett.

This meant she had to spend the holiday apart from her children, Cayden Taylor, 11, and Miley Taylor, nine, who are currently staying with their father. 

The former stewardess also faces the prospect of losing her dog, Kasper, as a result of moving to temporary accommodation – the four-year-old family pet is not allowed in the new house.

Ms Sanded said: ‘I was completely incapacitated and my partner was really ill as well. He was cooking. We got to about 2.45pm and I was very drowsy. My partner was falling asleep too.

‘He got the meat out of the oven and put it on the side and we both fell asleep. I woke up when I heard a crackling sound and saw smoke drifting across the room.

‘Wayne went into the kitchen to have a look and there was a small fire by the oven. 

‘He went and soaked some blankets in water to put over the fire but oxygen got hold of the flames and the fire just grew.’

The former Virgin Atlantic stewardess pictured with her two children. She contracted the disease herself days before Christmas and on December 25 was self-isolating with her partner

The former Virgin Atlantic stewardess pictured with her two children. She contracted the disease herself days before Christmas and on December 25 was self-isolating with her partner

The mother-of-two and her partner, who were unwell at the time, took food out of the oven and fell asleep before waking up to a blaze in their kitchen (pictured: the scene afterwards)

The mother-of-two and her partner, who were unwell at the time, took food out of the oven and fell asleep before waking up to a blaze in their kitchen (pictured: the scene afterwards)

The ceiling had been burned through and appliances melted by the flames, which left black scorch marks across the walls.

Ms Sanded said that fire crews told her it might be weeks before anyone could enter her home and months before it could be lived in again.

She added: ‘We were Covid positive and homeless. I explained it all and their out-of-hours team said, ‘don’t worry, we’ll find you emergency accommodation’.’

But she was later told no bed and breakfasts in the area were willing to house her because she had coronavirus. She was able to stay with her mother, who was also isolating after taking her to hospital, for one night.

The next day, Ms Sanded received a call from the council saying she had been booked into a nearby hotel. 

But when she rang the hotel to check the details, she found it had not been told she had tested positive for Covid-19. Once the hotel knew, it was unable to accept her.

Following this, Ms Sanded was told by the council she would have to wait until Tuesday, December 29, for the authority to find her accommodation because this was when all staff would return to work.

The scene in Ms Sanded's kitchen after the fire. She said that fire crews told her it might be weeks before anyone could enter her home and months before it could be lived in again

The scene in Ms Sanded’s kitchen after the fire. She said that fire crews told her it might be weeks before anyone could enter her home and months before it could be lived in again

Four days after the fire the council found her a two-bedroom property in Seaford. Ms Sanded said this would ‘not be ideal’ as her children were aged 11 and nine. Then things got worse.

She said: ‘We have been told we need to permanently rehouse our dog, Kasper. He can’t come with us. I don’t know what the kids will do when they find out.

‘After the fire, the first thing they asked for was a picture of him. We have had him since he was a puppy.’

She and her partner will have to pay around £1,700 a month for the temporary accommodation, compared to the £430 she was paying for her home previously.

Ms Sanded said: ‘We have lost everything except for the clothes on our back.’

But she added that the support from the Newhaven community has been ‘overwhelming’.

Ms Sanded with Matt LeBlanc. Four days after the fire the council found her a two-bedroom property. Ms Sanded said this would 'not be ideal' as her children were aged 11 and nine

Ms Sanded with Matt LeBlanc. Four days after the fire the council found her a two-bedroom property. Ms Sanded said this would ‘not be ideal’ as her children were aged 11 and nine

The former stewardess pictured with Richard Branson. Ms Sanded said that the support from the Newhaven community has been 'overwhelming'

The former stewardess pictured with Richard Branson. Ms Sanded said that the support from the Newhaven community has been ‘overwhelming’

Many people and businesses have donated items to help the family and a GoFundMe page set up by her sister has already collected more than £1,470.

Ms Sanded is now looking forward to seeing her children again, with her isolation period ending on Saturday.

‘My little girl is ten in a couple of weeks,’ she said. ‘She has been sending me messages counting down the days until we can see each other again. This is the longest she has ever been away from me.’

A Lewes District Council spokesman said: ‘We sympathise greatly with the most difficult and challenging position Ms Sanded, her family and her partner have found themselves in. 

‘Most importantly, no one was hurt in the fire and our team will be liaising with the fire service to assess the damage to the property.

‘The two-bedroom flat that we found for Ms Sanded was the only available property our officers could find in the circumstances, a search that was obviously complicated by her positive Covid-19 test.

‘Our team have provided details of how she can apply for an emergency grant to assist with purchasing essential items. We are in regular contact to ensure she has what she needs and have provided her with details of support agencies.’


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