William Armour, 34, was moved to a hotel after the block of flats where he lived was evacuated by firefighters. He was unable to pick up any of his belongings from him and is living of crisps and biscuits
Image: Stoke Live)
A disabled dad living off crisps and biscuits in a hotel after a fire blaze forced him out his home has said he would have been “better off in prison.”
William Armour, 34, was moved to a Holiday Inn in Clayton, Staffordshire, after the block of flats where he lived was evacuated by firefighters.
The fire meant he was unable to take any belongings and as a result the dad-of-four William said he was losing a lot of weight with his ribs starting to show after a week at the hotel, StokeonTrentLive reports.
However, due to the fire, he has been surviving on crisps, biscuits and hot drinks as there were no cooking facilities and he had spent his benefits on food that was inside his home.
The former cleaner said he was in desperate need of help, he said: “I wasn’t there when the fire happened. I was at a friend’s house when I got a message saying the flats were on fire, so I dropped everything and went there.
“There was lots of smoke, they had put the fire out but there was smoke everywhere and the building was black and burnt. The flat where the fire broke out was two doors from mine and a lady sadly died. I was in bits.
“All my kids’ memory boxes are in the flat, I’ve got their first haircuts and their first teeth. I could have lost everything. We still don’t know how bad the damage is seven days later.
“It’s more than likely all my belongings and clothes will have been ruined by the smoke. My 34 years of existence are in that flat.”
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said the investigation into the cause of the fire at Tollgate Court, in Blurton, south of Stoke-on-Trent on April 6 was ongoing.
William added: “My children live in York and my parents died last year so I’m on my own. I’m on Universal Credit and PIP, but I don’t get paid until April 19 and all my food shopping is in the flat.If the electric is off all my food will have gone off and my frozen food defrosted.
“I’ve got nothing, not one penny, I’d spent all my benefits on electricity, food and rent. I’ve been on the phone to the DWP but they said they can’t give me an advance.
“I’ve been given food from the food bank, but I can’t cook it because it’s mainly tins and microwave meals. Because I’m in a hotel, I don’t even have a tin opener.
“I’ve been eating nothing, just little bits from the food banks like packets of crisps and some sweets. In the hotel there is some tea bags, sugar and coffee that I’ve also had. Yesterday all I had was two packets of crisps and a couple of biscuits with a cup of tea.”
William, who was housed in Tollgate Court after being released from prison two years ago, added: “My friends have told me I’d be better off in prison. It’s warm, you get meals and wages and there’s no stress. This is why so many people go back to prison for some sort of security.
“I just need a room in a one bed flat. I’m disabled, I can barely walk after an accident at work in 2014 and I’m on strong morphine medication.
“I’m losing a lot of weight, my ribs are starting to show. I’ve seen a lot of people begging in the town center, but it’s not in my DNA to do that.
“I’ve also had friends telling me to pinch from supermarkets, but I’ve never pinched anything in my life. I’ve never stolen from anyone.
“I haven’t got a clue how I’m going to survive, I’ve just got to take each day as it comes.”
Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for housing and environment, said: “We are sorry to hear Mr Armor has been affected by the fire in Tollgate Court.
“As a private block of flats the primary responsibility for the provision of temporary accommodation in the event of emergencies lies with the landlord and it is understood they have made arrangements to accommodate the majority of tenants displaced from Tollgate Court.
“The city council were requested to assist seven tenants to provide support, however, Mr Armor is not one of those.
“We do not routinely provide food for households placed in temporary accommodation and would recommend Mr Armor approach his landlord to discuss compensation for his losses and ongoing costs from their insurers.”