Smoke belches from the block. Picture by Laura Holme.
THE Ventnor community came together to bring some Christmas joy to families who lost everything in a fire.
The blaze, which started last Thursday and reignited over the weekend, left many families homeless.
It started in one of the 11 flats at Clarendon Court, at Pound Lane, Ventnor, and quickly spread through the timber-framed building, with fire crews battling it through the night.
Jeff Walls, from IW Fire and Rescue, said there was an investigation into the fire but it was not thought to be suspicious.
Jade Ilett, 23, was one of fire victims: "It was devastating. I lost everything. I am still in shock," she said.
"The firemen were amazing. My main concern was my cat and they used thermal imaging to find her and went in to get her out."
She added: "The support from the community is amazing. Knowing that people, who don’t even know me, are willing to help someone that needs it at this time of year, means a lot."
People rallied around to collect clothing, food, and toys in time for Christmas for the families affected by the fire.
Gary Leal, from Cowes, called round supermarkets asking for support for the victims and Tesco offered toys and homeware to help get them back on their feet.
Ventnor resident Maria Sexton set up the Clarendon Court Fund to help the fire victims and started by holding a raffle at the St Boniface Arms, in Ventnor.
She said: "I went round the businesses in Ventnor and asked them if they could donate something for a raffle. We had more than 50 prizes and have raised well over £1,000 so far.
"Ventnor has really pulled together. A little boy came into the St Boniface Arms and handed over his piggy bank."
Spar, in Victoria Road, Ventnor, and The Worsley pub, in Wroxall, have also been collecting donations of toys, clothes, furniture and toiletries for the families.
Gillian Shaw, managing agent for the flats, said: "We managed to get three flats habitable.
"Three other flats are smoke-damaged but are not damaged by the fire.
"But we do have five flats that have been totally destroyed. The likelihood is part of the building will have to be demolished."