A mum and her three sons have been sleeping on the floor of a single cramped room for a week after their home was flooded with smoke.
Kandi Simpson, 35, was putting up the Christmas tree at her Oxton home at around 7.30pm on Monday, November 6, when she heard a strange noise in the hallway and went out to find the lower staircase engulfed in flames. Terrified, she shouted for her three sons, Laurence, 18, Mason, 14, and Miles, 9, to get out of the house.
But while she, Laurence and Miles were able to run out into the street, middle son Mason was cut off by the fire and was forced to make his escape by jumping from his bedroom window onto a low roof and a table in the garden below.
Kandi said: "My 14-year-old son was upstairs on his own when it happened and I was screaming at him to get out. He had to get out of the bedroom window on his own.
"Me and my sons were in the back garden with my dogs. Two fire engines came out and they had to smash the front door glass to get in."
Kandi, a hospital clinical support worker, said she and her sons were placed in an AirBnb by Wirral Council following the fire, which is believed to have been caused by an electric bike. However, the temporary accommodation had no cooking facilities, and so the family of four is now residing with Kandi's mum.
She said: "I've been at my mum's ever since but my mum has my brother to look after, who is 29 and disabled, and my 21 year old brother is living here too. I'm sleeping on the floor in the living room and my sons are on the couch.
"Everything (at home) is smoke damaged and black. I've tried to save bits of clothes. The fire alarms didn't go off; I just saw the flames and the house just went black with smoke. I didn't even have the chance to think about shutting the doors – if I shut the doors, I could've saved some things.
"My son who is nine is obsessed with Liverpool FC and he had the bed and rug, and all of that is gone. He keeps asking me if his toys are OK. I've had to cancel shifts because all my work clothes stink of smoke. There's no electrics in the house, heating or hot water. It's just a nightmare."
She is also worried about her two chow chow dogs, Bella and Bear, who are still living inside the smoke-damaged house on Carlton Road. Her cousin, Charlotte Jebb, has set up an online fund-raiser to help get the family back on their feet.
Kandi said: "As a mum you should be able to make sure your kids are OK and housed, clothes and fed.
"That night we were getting prepared for Christmas, we were just laughing, putting the tree up, we'd had tea and the heating was on. It was so nice. Now it could take weeks or months to find a house.
"They need somewhere to live, even if they have no toys or nothing for Christmas. Even if we're on blow up beds, at least we'll be in the same house and we'll be together. My cousin was determined to set up a GoFundMe, but I feel like it's begging. We have to carry on. But living in my mum's living room is not ideal at all and it's not fair on my mum or my brother. We have no space and nowhere else to go."
A Merseyside Fire and Rescue spokesman said: "We were alerted to an incident on Carlton Road, Oxton, on the evening of Monday, November 6.
"This was a two-storey terraced property involved in fire. The origin of the fire was located to the hallway from an electric bike. The fire was extinguished using one high pressure hose reel jet. Two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus (BA) were deployed and the property was ventilated using a PPV fan.
"Crews removed lithium-ion battery cells and the electric bike to outside the premises. The electrics to the house were isolated and an external handover was completed for the occupants house. The occupants were advised to have the electrics checked by a qualified engineer.
"Home fire safety checks were carried out to the property affected and those adjacent to the house affected. Crews left the scene at 8.13pm."