A HEARTBROKEN young mother has told of her daughter’s anguish at losing her beloved pet dog when fire broke out and destroyed the family home.

The blaze started at Caitlin Brook’s house in Catchgate, near Stanley, at around noon on Sunday, leaving her and her two daughters without any possessions.

She was out with her girls, Skyla, four, and one-year-old Cara, at the time, but the fire claimed the life of Lola, their two-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier.

The Northern Echo: Skyla with LolaSkyla with Lola

The tragedy is especially hard for little Skyla as the dog slept on her bed and was her best friend.

Caitlin, 24, said: “She knew what was going on, she is not daft, and she was saying: ‘Please get the dog Daddy, make sure you get my doggy’.

“She used to sleep in her bed every night. She did not sleep properly if Lola was not in her bed with her.

“She loved her to bits. There was a real bond between them.

“I always put the dog in her crate before I go out. Unfortunately, she did not survive.

“Telling my daughter was awful. She was absolutely heartbroken.”

The Northern Echo: Caitlin posted a collage of their happy times together on FacebookCaitlin posted a collage of their happy times together on Facebook

Skyla is having to come to terms with the loss and has been told she is now in ‘doggy heaven.’

Caitlin said: “Her face went blank when we told her and she did not know what to do. She did not quite believe it. Then she just broke her heart and was begging us to go and get her back.

“We were heartbroken ourselves but were trying to keep it together for the kids.”

Caitlin was at the Metrocentre with the girls and their father, Simon Miller, 28, when she received the devastating news about the fire.

Caitlin said: “Simon got a phone call from one of my friends.

"She was shouting ‘Caitin’s house is on fire’, and I was like ‘Oh, my dog is in there, tell us you are lying.’

“She said: ‘No, I’m not’, and then the signal went and her phone cut off.

“I thought it was a joke. I didn’t believe it. You never expect it will happen do you?”

"We were heading to my house and my friend’s mam was one of the first people to see it. She heard the window’s exploding.

“She rang me and put it on face time so I could see the flames. I was saying ‘just smash the window and get the dog out’.

“I didn’t realise how bad it was.”

The Northern Echo: The house was destroyed by the fireThe house was destroyed by the fire

The Northern Echo: A car on the drive was also ruined in the blazeA car on the drive was also ruined in the blaze

The Northern Echo: The inside of the property is gutted The inside of the property is gutted

Police and fire officers are investigating the cause of the blaze, but it is believed it may have been an electrical fault.

Durham Constabulary has said it is not being treated as suspicious and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said the cause was ‘accidental’.

Caitlin said: “The fire started in the garden and spread into the house and upstairs into the loft. It went everywhere. Inside it is back to the brick.

“You cannot event tell what was in there anymore. We have lost every single thing.”

Caitlin, who is studying part time at university and hopes to become a primary school teacher, said she is worried all of her coursework on her tablet will be lost.

The Northern Echo: Caitlin is having to rebuild her life after the fire Caitlin is having to rebuild her life after the fire

Caitlin said the privately rented house on Balmoral Avenue was insured and she had contents insurance, but the fire has left her with nothing.

Friends have started a fundraising campaign to get her back on her feet and the kind-hearted community has already raised around £5,000 as well as donating essentials and household items to help her get by.

Caitlin said: “It is mad. I get goosebumps thinking about it, that people would do all that for me.

“At the minute, nobody has anything with the cost of things shooting up the way they are and people are still donating. I cannot get my head around it.

“Everyone is coming forward with things. I am frazzled and have not even had the chance to think about things I am missing.

“I am completely blown away by it.”


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