A couple who packed up all their possessions to begin a new life in the country lost everything and are now living in a tent – after their removal van was destroyed by FIRE.
Mike Kearns and partner Jermaine had moved out of their town house and were on their way to their new home in the idyllic village of Fraddon in Cornwall.
But their delivery van caught fire just 20 minutes into the journey and all their belongings were reduced to ashes at the side of the motorway.
Devastated Mike could only watch helplessly as the removal van went up in smoke on the hard shoulder.
The couple reckon they have lost more than £10,000 worth of belongings and are now living in a tent while they try to piece together their lives.
Mike, 29, said everything he owned was lost in the fire, including televisions, furniture, clothes and kitchen appliances.
He said: ”I cannot believe this has happened. It’s like a bad dream. We have lost absolutely everything.
”The van contained all our clothes and furniture as well as the bed and the washing machine. I’ve been left with just the clothes on my back.
”It also had things with priceless sentimental value, such as my granddad’s bible, which he was given at a World War II prisoner of war camp.
”It’s heartbreaking really. We spent ages planning this move and were looking forward to it so much. Now we’ve been left to pick up the pieces.”
The couple had been living in Cheltenham, Glos., but were moving to Cornwall to be near Mike’s family.
They had ended the tenancy agreement on their property in Cheltenham and had found a new rented house in Cornwall.
Mike rented a Mercedes Sprinter 3.5 tonne truck from Gullivers Truck Hire for £80 and they set off on June 25 after loading all their possessions.
The vehicle was being driven by a relative when the its engine cut out 20 minutes into the journey on the M5.
Mike, a lithographic printer, added: ”As soon as we had stopped I got out because I thought it might blow. I was right.
”We didn’t even have time to rescue anything out of the back. It just went up in a ball of flames.”
Mike watched on as the entire contents of the van went up in the blaze, believed to have been caused by the engine oil catching fire.
His girlfriend Jermaine Northeast, 21, who was travelling to Cornwall separately, was about to leave Cheltenham when she was told the news.
Jermaine, a painter and decorator, added: ”We have been so upset since it happened. I have even been to the doctors to deal with the stress.
”If it wasn’t for family and friends helping us out I don’t know where we would be. We are so grateful to everyone who has stepped in to support us.”
The couple have been negotiating with van hire company Gullivers to claim on insurance, but so far their attempts to reach a settlement have come to nothing.
Having given up the lease on their flat in Cheltenham, the pair are living in a tent in Jermaine’s grandmother’s garden.
Regulars at their local pub, the Suffolk Arms, have put together a collection to wish the couple well on their move.
Landlady Rita Meaden said: ”It’s such a shame. We all feel so sorry for them. They are very well liked here and they certainly did not deserve this.”
Gullivers Truck Hire Ltd, which has an office in Gloucester, declined to comment.