A York couple whose home was destroyed by fire have spoken of how it has devastated their lives.
Gaëlle Darde, 24, and David Dearing, 33, were woken by the fire alarm going off in their Priory Street flat at 5am on 16 March.
As YorkMix reported, the blaze gutted the top floor apartment, leaving the roof open to the elements.
David passed out due to smoke inhalation and had to be dragged to safety by one of their neighbours.
Although they are both physically recovered, the blaze has left them homeless and suffering flashbacks.
It also destroyed David’s business as all his work equipment was destroyed. Now the couple have launched a fundraiser to rebuild their lives.
Gaëlle told YorkMix:
The few days we spent going through the rubble to try to see if anything was salvageable were really hard, psychologically.
We had lived there many years, it was our home, and seeing it like that was devastating. It took everything we had not to cry.
David, who is from Yorkshire, moved into the flat six years ago when he decided to move into his favourite city, York. Gaëlle, whose from France, moved in with him a year and a half later.
Gaëlle said: “I became aware of the fire at about 5am, when the fire alarm woke me up.
“It was an incredibly scary situation, especially because you never expect to see something like this so close. We still sometimes have flashbacks from it.
“As soon as I became aware of the fire, I woke David up, and then I ran out. When I noticed that David wasn’t following me, I went back upstairs, where I saw him stumble out of the flat and pass out in the stairs because of smoke inhalation.
“I had to call one of the neighbours to drag him outside.”
She said David had been working late that night.
“He started to cook some food, and while it was heating up, he sat down. Since having Covid in September, David has been suffering from fatigue, and on top of that, he currently takes medication that makes him very drowsy.
“Because of all that, he suddenly fell asleep while the food was cooking, and then the fire started.”
In the aftermath, “We were in shock. We first had to be taken to the hospital because of the smoke inhalation.
“While in hospital, we started to hope that rooms far from where the fire started, like the living room, were intact, or not too damaged. We were completely shocked to see the apartment had been completely destroyed.”
David, an audio engineer who mixes music for bands at concerts and in recording studios, lost his work equipment, including microphones, computers and consoles. It means he can’t work until they’re replaced.
They also lost all our furniture, “and also a lot of irreplaceable memories, such as memorabilia from David’s career, from our travels and life”.
She said they had received a lot of support, including from Mike Kingswood and Emily Bainbridge who have let them stay at their house until they find a new place to live.
The fundraiser is to replace David’s work equipment. “David needs a lot of equipment, which is really expensive,” Gaëlle said. “As you can guess, the pandemic was really tough for David, as the music industry was one of the last sector allowed to start back when Covid restrictions began being lifted.”
They won’t be able to move back into the Priory Street flat, as it will be uninhabitable for a long time. So they are looking for a new place to live.
Gaëlle thanked everyone for their “incredible support”, saying: “We have friends who helped us when we tried to salvage things from the flat, friends who have offered furnitures, people donating to our GoFundMe…
“We feel so grateful for all the help from friends, acquaintances and even strangers!”