Mum and daughter forced to sleep in car after house exploded and dog banned from hotel

A mum and daughter who lost their home in an “almighty” explosion slept in their car following the incident after their beloved pet dog was refused entry to a hotel.

Gillian Smith, 55, and 22-year-old Sarah Drew, lost their home in Bethnal Green, East London, in an explosion which blew out the side of Bentworth Court and set the tower block on fire on August 4.

The burning building was evacuated and four Brits ended up in hospital, MyLondon reported .

But the devastated mum and daughter were left without anywhere to stay as they had their dog, a Labradoodle called Zuma, with them so accommodation couldn’t be found.

They were left “freezing” and given no help after being told by a Tower Hamlets Home officer at 1am on the night of the fire that there was nowhere they could go with their pet.

Instead, they had to bed down in their car, in the same clothes they wore in the day during a trip to Chessington Zoo.

“I was informed that night I would not be given emergency accommodation if I could not find somewhere for the dog,” Gillian said.

She added: “I said ‘Me and my daughter will have to sleep in the car’.

“She said ‘You will have to make arrangements and before you leave, give your name and number to the police officer’. Then she just walked away.

“It was just uncomfortable with the dog in the car. We did not really sleep [Sarah] was crying all night and was upset.

“It is the upheaval of it all. It’s not ideal but there’s nothing else we can do.”

Following that, she received a welfare call on Friday morning and was moved to a Holiday Inn in Whitechapel for two nights.

Meanwhile, her other daughter, who lived in Dagenham, took the dog until Sunday despite rules against pets in her building.

The 55-year-old had been in McDonalds when she got a call from her sister-in-law to warn her the eight-storey block had been ripped apart by the blaze.

Her seven-month-old pump Zuma and their cat Princess were still inside at the time.

Firefighters emerged with Zuma and Gillian was happy that Princess was probably safe “hiding behind the sofa”.

Then, after two days without her dog, following a number of phone calls, on Sunday morning a room in Travelodge Dagenham was sorted with a space for their beloved dog.

Gillian said: “It’s only through myself they would not have contacted me at all. I would be sleeping in the car probably.”

She also claimed she was forced to wear the same set of clothes for six days until she got her first emergency cash payment on Tuesday, despite being promised a clothes parcel for the Monday.

A letter from Tower Hamlets Homes sent to residents this week said the homes will be inaccessible until the safety assessment is done and repairs carried out, and was unable to give a timescale. It wrote: “We know these have been very challenging circumstances for you.

“We have sought to provide adequate temporary accommodation, practical assistance, and some financial support for everyday necessities. However, we will not have got everything right over the past couple of days.”

A Tower Hamlets Homes spokesperson said: “Food, blankets and emergency assistance were provided to residents directly affected by the fire at Bentworth Court on Thursday evening from a central triage site close by.

“We are sorry that Ms Smith did not receive immediate assistance however, our officers made contact with her the following day and arranged accommodation for her and her daughter.

“Although our officers were able to secure a pet-friendly hotel for one family, they were unable to secure a second pet-friendly room for Ms Smith at such short notice.

“Officers from Tower Hamlets Homes have remained in regular contact and on Sunday they supported Ms Smith, her daughter and her dog to move into a pet-friendly hotel.

“Ms Smith has received backdated emergency payments and is being fully supported by officers from Tower Hamlets Homes.”