Drug charge after house blaze

Broxtowe Avenue house fire.
Broxtowe Avenue house fire.

A man has been charged with growing cannabis after his family house in Kimberley went up in flames.

The blaze tore through the roof of the semi-detached property in Broxtowe Avenue in the early hours of Monday. Fire crews and police were called out at around 4am.

Officers confirmed they arrested and charged Darren Gerrard, 24, with production of the drug. He was due to appear in court on Wednesday.

His wife, who has been named by locals as Rebecca, and her two-year-old child were home, but escaped after hearing ‘crackling sounds’.

Neighbour Kathryn Ward described how she stood and watched the property go up in flames after being evacuated.

“I got a call from a neighbour in the middle of the night to say the fire brigade was outside and I had to get out,” she said.

“I got my little girl out and we gathered on the other side of the road with the other neighbours and basically watched the house burn down. Firemen smashed an upstairs window and the flames just poured out – it must have been the oxygen igniting it.

“You could see the flames ripping through the roof.”

Ms Ward said she spoke to Mrs Gerrard, 25, who was being comforted by a neighbour.

“She said she was okay, but shocked. She said she had woken up hearing crackling sounds.”

The upstairs of the house is thought to be completely gutted and there is a gaping hole in the roof.

The neighbouring property, owned by a pensioner living in a care home, was empty at the time and suffered smoke damage.

Ms Ward, 25, said: “I feel sorry for the neighbour. She was going to sell her house to help pay for her care and who is going to want to buy it now?

“I just thank God she wasn’t there. She’s blind and deaf, and she wouldn’t have had anyone to get her out.”

The Gerrards are now believed to be staying with relatives in the area.

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: “Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the cause of the fire.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101 quoting incident 130 of September 23.

Alternatively contact Crimestoppers, which is free and anonymous, on 0800 555111.