A heartbroken elderly Scots couple watched a lifetime of memories go up in flames after a horror blaze at their beloved home of 40 years.
Mary and Jock Brockie have been left with nothing except the clothes on their backs after the fire at their house on Watters Crescent in Lochgelly, Fife, on Thursday.
Retired social care worker Mary, 68, was returning from placing flowers at her son’s grave with her daughter Gail McAndrew when the pair noticed smoke in the distance.
Meanwhile ex-miner Jock, 74, was in the house and was forced to grab his beloved lovebird Misty and flee after panicked neighbors alerted him to the blaze.
Gail, 49, told the Record: “My brother Stuart died in a car accident in 1996 when he was just 19 and it is coming up to the anniversary of his death so me and my mum had gone down to Lochgelly Cemetery to put fresh flowers down.
“When we were driving back up the hill towards my mum’s street we saw all the smoke and we were wondering where it was coming from.
“When we got to the bottom of my mum’s street I just knew straight away it was their house.
“My mum was just sitting in a daze as to what was happening, but I just abandoned my car and ran.
“At this point there was loads of smoke and some flames. My dad was just sitting in the ground floor living room watching TV at the time.
“He said the television crackled and he heard a ‘whoosh’ noise – and then everything just happened in a matter of seconds.
“He then smelt burning as the fire alarm systems kicked in and he says he just didn’t know what was happening.
“The neighbors had called 999 and were banging on the door screaming for my dad to get out of the house.
“He was wondering what they were all shouting at. He didn’t have a clue what was going on until he went outside and saw the fire coming from the roof.”
In a blind panic Jock raced back into the burning house to save his beloved bird Misty.
Gail said: “The neighbors were going crazy at him shouting at him not to go back in, but he went back in anyway.
“Misty is my mum’s bairn. They have had her for 15-years and he said my dad said life wouldn’t be worth living if he hadn’t saved Misty.
“It was really windy that day and within minutes the fire had spread.”
Forensic investigators told Gail they believe the fire was started by electrical wiring in the attic.
Jock suffers from lung disease and was checked over by paramedics who thankfully found he was okay, but their home was completely destroyed by the blaze.
The pair have insurance but have lost all their sentimental possessions and a lifetime of memories as well as £8,000 in cash.
Gail, who works for NHS Lothian, said: “They are still in utter shock. I don’t want them to go and see the house because I think it would be too devastating for them.
“My partner took them away from the scene after they had been checked over by paramedics because we just didn’t want them to be sitting in the ambulance watching their house burn down.
“They haven’t seen what it looks like now, and personally I didn’t want them to see that.”
Gail, who grew up in the family home, sobbed: “We were just standing there, knowing there was nothing we could do to stop it or help it.
“40 years of memories, everything that we have ever worked for – gone.
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“The fire chiefs let us back into the house on Thursday evening to see if we could save any pictures of my little brother that were in the living room. All my mum was asking for were the pictures.
“But they’ve left the house that day with just the clothes on their backs. They have absolutely nothing else. Everything that they owned was in that house.”
Gail says Jock and Mary will stay with her and her partner Jamie Gorrian while the house is rebuilt.
The couple have launched a fundraiser to help pay for essentials to get the pensioners back on their feet – but it’s the sentimental things they will never get back.
The heartbroken couple had memories of Stuart that they had kept since his accident which are now gone.
Gail said: “When Stuart left the house that morning that was it – he never came back. My mum still had all the stuff from his bedroom and loads of stuff that had been left at his grave. She kept every single thing and now we ‘ll never get that back.
“The most devastating thing is all the memories. They had a big cupboard in their bedroom that had all their photo albums of us when we were babies.
“They are old fashioned as well and don’t trust banks and they had around £8,000 in cash savings in their home as well. They’ve lost everything.
“Thankfully the insurance company have been fantastic. They have been out already and the debris removal team will come in and the house is going to be rebuilt from the ground up – but they’ve said they won’t be back in there for at least a year.
“The insurance will pay for the rebuild and their main appliances, but the reason we set up the fundraiser page is because they have literally been left with nothing.
“We want to be able to get them clothes and all the essential, small things that you need to start a home.
“But if there’s anything left over we would love to get them a wee holiday. They absolutely love Blackpool, before Covid they used to go two or three times a year. So if we have anything left over we want to try and get them a wee break.”
To donate to the fundraiser for Mary and Jock, click here.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.