A couple’s £40,000 beach hut is a charred wreck after it was torched by a discarded BBQ dumped by a selfish holidaymaker.
Mary Gillmore, 54, and her husband Mark, 57, bought their stunning Southwold beach hut in 2014, naming it ‘Summerlea’ after her childhood home.
But the charming hut is now charred black and damaged beyond repair with a hole in the roof thanks to a careless tourist who dumped a still-lit BBQ in a bin nearby.
Fishermen off the coast of Southwold in Norfolk spotted the blaze in the early hours, and firefighters rushed to the scene.
Thankfully they stopped it spreading to the nearby Victorian pier – but the hut is a write-off, and will cost much more than the insured sum of £5,000 to replace.
Beauty salon owner Mary, a mum-of-two from Grange Park, north London, said: “I’m just in shock. It’s dreadful.
“We bought our beach hut six years ago and since then have poured love, money and joy into it. Our hut was our beautiful retreat from the world.
“We were contacted by the fire service in the early hours of Sunday morning to say there had been a fire and my husband and I sat in bed stunned before I started to cry, which carried on for most of the day.
“We had part of our wedding reception in the hut five years ago and had one of our gifts in the hut – home made wooden heart bunting, made by one of my best friends.
“Everything has been destroyed or tainted and we’re heartbroken. Our beautiful oasis had been destroyed through no fault of our own.”
Mary had been incredibly proud of her beach hut which people had often referred to as ‘the nicest beach hut in Southwold’.
Southwold Fire Brigade were alerted in the early hours of Sunday morning [August 2] by a local fisherman who had spotted the flames on the beach.
The fire is believed to have been started by a hot bbq discarded in a bin behind the beach hut on Saturday evening [August 1], erupting in flames in the early hours of the following day.
Mary said: “The fire service attended within 15 minutes of the fisherman calling them but by that time, the bin behind our hut was completely burnt down, it was gone.
“If they hadn’t attended so quickly, all seven of those beach huts would have caught fire and potentially the pier as it’s just next door and all those houses were in danger too.
“One of the neighbouring huts has a slight singe on the corner but our hut looks like it is now a write off because of the damage, we’ll have to have a completely new hut.
“I just want everyone to know what can happen as often people don’t realise how dangerous it can be to not discard of a bbq properly.
“The remnants of the bbq were found behind the hut – you could see the grill where you cook your food left in the ashes of where the bin stood.
“A bbq should never be put in one of those bins, it should never have been there and if a fire starts and the wind carries the flames, you never know what could happen.”
“I’ve not been in this situation before and I didn’t realise how bad smoke damage is but the wood is destroyed and the smell will never go away so it needs to be a whole new hut.”
Mary and computer engineer Mark had insured the property at £5,000 for rebuild but the cost to repair the damaged hut could be double that price.
The devastating fire has ripped open a large hole in the blackened back wall and the roof of the Suffolk hut and smoke damage has left the property written off.
It was available rent from £399 a week.
“Cancelling the reservations that we have for the rest of the year will lose us £2,000 worth of bookings as it’s peak season at the moment,” she said.