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Heartbreak as blaze destroys boat home on Regent’s Canal

Boating community rallies around mum-of-one

22 August, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Kate Burrell by the boat with friend Danny Steed and his dog Bow

A MOTHER is appealing for help after her canal boat home was destroyed in a fire.

Kate Burrell, 43, was half asleep when a blaze broke out on her barge on the Regent’s Canal, near Regent’s Park, shortly before 3am on August 8.

Firefighters fought the flames for several hours to get it under control but most of the boat’s interior – which is nearly 100 years old – was destroyed.

Windows were broken and the walls and floors charred. Most of Ms Burrell’s belongings were lost in the fire, including artwork that she says has great sentimental value.

Paying professionals to fix the boat could cost around £20,000. But with donations of skills and time she hopes it could be much less.

Ms Burrell has launched a fundraising page and several people have offered to work on the restoration for free.

The fire-damaged interior of the canal boat

“I’ve spent tens of thousands of pounds over the years, but then you expect to when that’s your home,” said Ms Burrell. “At the moment I’m not really in a position where I have a big stash of cash to put into it right now.”

She said she was seeking legal advice on the situation regarding her insurance.

Ms Burrell said emails prompting her to renew her policy had gone into her “spam” folder while she was unwell two weeks before the fire.

She is now trying to find out what her rights are. The London Fire Brigade said the cause was “accidental”.

Ms Burrell bought the boat 10 years ago in Rotterdam, Holland, and it has been moored up and down the Regent’s Canal for the past five years.

The boat was built in the early 1900s and converted into a home in the 1960s.

Kate inside the charred interior of the boat

It is named “Zomaste”, a Dutch word for sun, moon and stars.

Ms Burrell said: “It’s been tough. I think it took a few days to sink in what I’ve been through, in terms of the fire and the extent of the damage to my home and the loss of lots of sentimental items.

“But at the same time I’ve been overwhelmed by the people who have stopped by and offered their sympathies.”

Ms Burrell’s close friend, 44-year-old Danny Steed, who sometimes stayed on the boat with her, said: “Kate has put all of her time into her family home to make sure everything is above board.

“We’ve had some donations and a guy who stopped by said whenever she is ready for the electrics, he would come and do it for her. There are good people out there. One guy has written a song about it and a film- maker has been in touch.”

To donate to the fundraiser click here.

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