PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Sole survivor of killer house fire rebuilds life

Pictured is Tia, the daughter of deceased Claire James who died in a house fire at North Wingfield.
Pictured is Tia, the daughter of deceased Claire James who died in a house fire at North Wingfield.

A courageous girl who survived an horrific house fire which claimed the lives of her mother and three others has begun to rebuild her life.

Tia James, aged seven, was rushed to Chesterfield Royal Hospital following the accidental blaze at a terraced house on Williamthorpe Road, North Wingfield, Chesterfield, after she escaped from the back of the house.

Her mother Claire James, 27, and Claire’s friend Josie Leighton, 32, and her sons Tyler Green, aged nine, and Jordan Green 12, died in the fire on November 20.

Tia’s uncle Adrian Marson said: “The James family has been trying to re build their lives. However things will never get back to the time before we lost Claire.

“We take great comfort in the fact we still have Tia and it is a miracle that she got out. Tia is now living with her father David and he has been amazing.”

David was at Tia’s hospital bedside straight after the fire - which was caused by an accidental, electrical fault - and has been there supporting her through the changes to her life.

Mr Marson added: “She still suffers from the little things we may take for granted that trigger memories of what she saw and experienced in that house.

“David has been supporting Tia and ensuring her life is as normal as possible. She is a strong and courageous little girl and has adapted well to her new situation.”

With support from David and Claire’s families everyone is working hard to ensure the happy memories of Tia and Claire’s time together stay with her as the families work to shape a future for the youngster.

Everyone has rallied during key times like Christmas and Mother’s Day when Tia visited Claire’s grave where she placed cards and flowers.

Resident Lee Forester, of Grassmoor, was so moved by what happened he helped set up Help for a Local Child with donations from the public raising thousands of pounds for a trust fund for Tia.

Mr Forester said: “The response from people was amazing and Tia will be able to access this money when she is an adult to help give her a start in life.”

Tia’s dad David Harrod currently holds the fund with another relative and they have thanked everyone for their kindness.

Danette Bradder, of Clay Cross, who was a friend of both affected families, also helped raise thousands of pounds with a massive sponsored march and a charity day to cover funeral costs.

Mr Marson added: “As a family the support we received from organised fundraising was amazing. Whilst we battled through what seemed our darkest hour as a family the overwhelming out-pouring of community support and grief provided great comfort.”

Both families were moved by local, national and international support with fundraisers donating clothes, toys, games and finance.

Mr Marson added: “We attended the walk from Chesterfield to the Fun Day organised at North Wingfield Miners Welfare. The work that went into that day was truly amazing and the organisers worked tirelessly to make it a success.

“Tia was swamped with things that helped in her transition to her new life and we are truly grateful to everyone for the amount of support from pubs, businesses and school friends of the boys.”

Even Tia’s favourite band One Direction has sent her concert tickets for later this year.

Mr Marson added: “We’ve ensured the trust fund is invested for the future to give Tia the start in life that she deserves after all she saw in that house.

“We have not made a big thing of the amount of money as she still misses her mum immensely and no sum will ever replace her.

“However, David and I will ensure that she has the best possible start as she steps out into adult life. Be that funding for further education or even her first home.”