Khatera and Esmat Husseini kept their belongings at a storage site in Greater Manchester which was hit by a huge fire in the early hours of the morning
Image: Khatera Husseini)
A young family with a three-week-old baby faces the harrowing reality of starting their lives over from scratch after a huge warehouse fire.
Khatera and Esmat Husseini have been temporarily housed with their children for four months, living in two hotels, as well as homes in Newton Heath and Oldham.
Meanwhile, the family kept their belongings at the Armadillo Self Storage site in Greater Manchester, which was hit by fire in the early hours of February 26.
Now Khatera says the family has lost everything – from furniture and clothes that can be replaced, to photographs and precious memories that are now lost forever.
She told the Manchester Evening News: “Now we have to start from scratch. We have nothing.
“I can buy furniture and things like that. I can buy it new or used, I don’t mind.
“But most of the things I can’t replace. That’s what destroys me – but there’s nothing I can do.”
Khatera left Afghanistan for the UK six years ago, where Esmat was already living.
The couple settled in Wythenshawe and had two sons – five-year-old Oscar and 17-month-old Osiris.
They became homeless last October when they moved out of their rented house while Khatera was pregnant because their house had become unsafe and the rent had started to climb.
The family were moved by Manchester City Council to a hotel for six weeks, before finding property in Newton Heath.
But Khatera says the family received no guarantees as to how long the property would last and the situation was less than ideal.
Khatera, 31, said: “I was pregnant, I took my eldest son to school every day, I left home at 6:30 a.m. to take the bus. It was really difficult.”
Khatera says that after being turned down the Newton Heath home, the family were asked to leave and were moved to a second hotel for a month, before finding another home in Oldham where they are currently staying.
Since becoming homeless last October, the family have been moved to a hotel for six weeks before finding accommodation in Newton Heath.
They were moved to a hotel again in January, before finding new temporary accommodation in Oldham earlier this month, the same day the couple’s third son – Octavis – was born.
Khatera says the family started taking items from the Armadillo site when they moved to Newton Heath, but returned them when they left, and the items have remained there ever since.
She said: “We kept everything there. There is not enough space if we bring all our things here, there would be no place for my children to sleep.
“We had clothes in there, my husband’s work uniform, my son’s school uniform. Whatever we needed, we picked it up and brought it here.”
About 130 firefighters battled the blaze at the Armadillo site at its peak.
The site’s owners told the Manchester Evening News that most of the content was destroyed in the devastating blaze, which the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service believe was deliberate.
These items include personal belongings stored by Khatera’s family, including a sofa, refrigerator and laptop computer, as well as photographs from Afghanistan and clothing.
“We lost everything on Saturday,” Khatera said.
“We were up all night, we couldn’t sleep. If you lose everything, it’s really difficult and I still can’t deal with it now.
“I came here to have a good life in the UK. Now everything has changed.”
The family are currently trying to get closer to Wythenshawe, with their case to be heard in court.
They are among many families and business owners who have used the Armadillo facility, who were told on Saturday not to visit the building for safety reasons, and Khatera says she is now awaiting further information from its owners.
In a statement on Saturday, a spokesperson for The Big Yellow Family Self-Storage Group said: “At this point the cause of the fire is not known, but we now understand that there has been extensive destruction of the building and most of its contents.
“We will provide updates once we know more. Customers should not attempt to visit the store.
“We sincerely apologize to all affected customers and will contact them directly with regular updates as soon as possible.
“We know this will be a difficult time for all of our customers and that some of the goods stored with us can never be replaced, which is why we are so saddened that this incident has occurred.
“We will work with insurers to manage our customers’ content claims as quickly as possible.”
Councilor Luthfur Rahman, OBE, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is an incredibly difficult time for the family and my heartfelt sympathy goes out to them following the situation they find themselves in.
“We have been working with the family since they came to Council as homeless in the fall.
“Although they were offered accommodation, after a review it was determined that the property was not affordable for them in their current circumstances.
“We are working hard to find them suitable accommodation and make them an additional offer but unfortunately due to high rents in the private sector and pressure on the system, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to place families in the neighborhoods where they wish to live, and any additional supply may be within the boundaries of Greater Manchester.”