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Boys reunited with hamster found in rubble of Hampstead fire

It has cheered them up a bit, says mother who fears everything has been lost in blaze

30 November, 2017 — By William McLennan

Fang the hamster

TWO boys whose home was destroyed in a devastating fire which claimed a neighbour’s life were provided with a piece of pocket-sized comfort this week when their hamster was rescued from the rubble.

Tanya Ley was amazed when she was presented with her children’s pet by a builder who had been inspecting the council block in Daleham Gardens, Hampstead, gutted in a blaze last week.

But the boys are still without their pet, which is staying with their aunt while the family are put up in a hotel by Camden Council.

The Marriott Hotel, in Adelaide Road, told them they would have to pay a £75 surcharge for the hamster to stay. Ms Ley, who believes all the family’s possession were lost to the fire, described the charge as “ridiculous”.

The hotel said that they would wave their no-pet policy for the family, but said the payment was needed for a “deep clean” to remove the smell of the hamster at the end of their stay.

Ms Ley said they had not been able to return to the home, but fears there is little to salvage.

“We are left with nothing,” she said. “My daughter had to pawn some gold jewellery to buy shoes for my grandson and I’m still walking around in my niece’s trainers.”

Called “Fang”, the hamster is named after a character in the hit children’s TV series Horrid Henry.

“It has cheered them up a bit,” she said. “We went out and bought him a lovely new cage. He’s living in a mansion now.”

Cousin Harry, son Bobby and grandson Daniel with Fang

Fang had been missing for five days and the family had feared the worst. “We were amazed he survived. He’s only tiny,” said Ms Ley. “The builder said he’d been saved by a boiler. The ceiling had collapsed and it was the only thing that stopped him being crushed.”

London Fire Brigade is still investigating the cause of the blaze, which firefighters fought throughout the night. Ms Ley said that the small measure of good news, among the devastation, had helped lift the spirits of her son and grandson, who both live with her.

The fire in Daleham Gardens

“They said we’d have to pay £75 a night,” Ms Ley said. “It’s ridiculous, £75 for a little hamster. What are they going to do? Bring it room service every morning?”

Carol Bridges, sales and marketing director at from the Marriott Hotel Regent Park, said the fee was not a daily charge.

“It was a one off £75 cleaning fee and that has been reduced from £150, which is our general deep cleaning fee. It was made an exception for this particular guest, due to the trauma that the family has been through. They are any regular guest to us, but we obviously understand the circumstances of why they are here.

“As a gesture of good will our front office manager agreed to wave [the no-pet policy]. Although a hamster is a very small animal, they are not the least odorous animals in terms of their waste and saw dust and everything else. The fee is that, bearing in mind we have a no-pet policy, we would have to fully clean the room because of allergies and everything else.”

She suggested Camden Council, who as landlords are housing the family and several others in the aftermath of the fire, should foot the hamster’s bill.

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