Family devastated after Wingate home destroyed in suspected arson attack

A COUNTY Durham family have spoken of their devastation after their ‘dream home’ was destroyed in a suspected arson attack.

Dean and Louise Fox, along with their two children, Harry, 8, and Annabelle, 4, were just weeks away from moving into their new home in Station Town, near Wingate.

The home had been designed by Mr Fox after years of saving up and was supposed to be “something to secure” their children’s future.

But instead, it was left completely gutted and in need of demolition following a suspected arson attack at around 2.20am on Wednesday.

The Northern Echo: Firefighters at the scene on Wednesday morning Picture supplied by LOUISE FOXFirefighters at the scene on Wednesday morning Picture supplied by LOUISE FOX

Speaking to The Northern Echo, the family described how they were devastated after their dream home was “taken away” in just minutes.

They’ve since thanked the community for their support after almost £4,500 was raised in less than 48 hours. 

Mr Fox said: “We were almost ready to move in, we were picking bathroom suites, starting to get the painters in.

“We’d been looking for somewhere to live for years and had finally put all of our life-savings into it.”

The Northern Echo: The fire is being treated as suspected arson Picture: JIM SCOTTThe fire is being treated as suspected arson Picture: JIM SCOTT

‘Something for our kids’ future’

Mr Fox, a joiner by trade, said hundreds of thousands pounds had gone into the project, which he believed could have been passed through generations.

The family even installed a time capsule, which was buried deep under the house.

He said: “The home was going to be something for the kids’ future, we thought it would outlive us.”

The home had been named Harbelle, a heartwarming combination of both of their children’s names.

Mr Fox had been working round-the-clock every day, often completing 14 hour shifts in order to get the home finished for the family by September.

He said: “The only time I’ve had an extra pair of hands here is when I couldn’t lift it myself.

“It’s not just the money, it’s the time I’ve lost not spending it with my wife and kids.”

The Northern Echo: The entrance of the home Picture: JIM SCOTTThe entrance of the home Picture: JIM SCOTT

He said: “The kids were getting excited about it, they’d come on site with their plastic tools and pretended to help out.”

“When we got there on Wednesday, the first thing my eight-year-old son said was ‘dad you’ve worked so hard,’ he was crying his eyes out.”

Coincidentally on the night of the fire, Mr and Mrs Fox had been preparing to celebrate their four-year-old’s birthday the following day. 

The Northern Echo: The home will need to be demolished Picture: JIM SCOTTThe home will need to be demolished Picture: JIM SCOTT

He said: “It was on our little girl’s birthday eve – we had all kinds planned for her and last minute had to cancel it to sort this out.

“We’ll now always remember it for this too, which is sad.”

The couple are waiting to have the damage assessed by their home insurance, but fear the payout may not cover the full costs.

The Northern Echo: The home before the fire pictured below The home before the fire pictured below

But a JustGiving page, set up by a family friend, has managed to raise almost £4,500 in the space of 48 hours.

Mr Fox said: “We’re so grateful, I didn’t expect it and we would never have dreamt of receiving all of the support.”

Mrs Fox said: “It’s just been so overwhelming, I’ve sobbed absolutely sobbed – it’s incredible.

“I had said I didn’t want to live in Wingate anymore but this has just proven to me how much good is still in the village.”

Vowing to rebuild, the family said they were determined to overcome the fire.

He said: “Everybody has been so supportive, we can’t not do it again, and we’re not going to be defeated.”

Mrs Fox added that she hoped to be able to build a secure wall around the future home for added safety.

Detective sergeant Chris Woollett from Durham Police confirmed the force was investigating the fire.

He said: “This incident is being treated as a suspected arson and an investigation is underway.

“Enquiries are ongoing and anyone with information is asked to ring the force on 101 and ask to speak to Peterlee CID”.

The Northern Echo | Durham