Fire rips through home of Doodlebug survivor

The back of the house

Damage to the bathroom

Damage to the bedroom

First published in Redbridge by

A PENSIONER who survived being bombed by the Nazis had a lucky escape as fire ripped through her home.

Dramatic pictures taken by the Guardian today show the destruction caused by the blaze at the terraced house in Cairns Avenue, Woodford Bridge, on Sunday.

80-year-old Constance Tierney lives at the property with her beloved cat.

The fire broke out in her bedroom at just before 5pm on Sunday.

A close family member, who asked not to be named, said Mrs Tierney was downstairs when the blaze started.

He added: "She smelt smoke, had a quick look upstairs, saw it was dangerous and her smoke alarm then went off.

"A chap from over the back came round and got her out of the house.

"She’s been through it all before – her house was bombed during the war by a Doodlebug when she lived in Tewkesbury Road in Tottenham.

"She’s a strong old bird.

"Fortunately her most precious things were saved because they were kept downstairs.

"She’s got no clothes, no dressing gown, not even a pair of slippers.

"We had to buy her a new set of everything, including new glasses. Even her false teeth melted in the fire.

"She’s more upset with Christmas being round the corner than losing everything."

Mrs Tierney was taken to Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, where she remains under observation.

The cat left its home before the fire took hold and walked to Mrs Tierney's daughter's house a few doors away, where it is now being looked after.

A total of 20 firefighters brought the blaze, which is believed to have been caused by an unattended cigarette, under control by 7.20pm.

It completely destroyed the first floor and some of the ground floor of the house.

Neighbour Dorothy Welch, 80, said: "I saw the smoke coming from the upstairs window.

"There wasn't many people who came out to have a look.

"Once the fire engines arrived people let them do their job."

A spokesman from the London Fire Brigade said: "In London, smoking-related fires are the second most common cause of fire in the home."

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