People who lost their belongings to a fire in a Shurgard self-storage facility in Croydon on New Year’s Eve have criticised the company for sending a generic email after the blaze, and have spoken of the pain of losing irreplaceable possessions.
Three weeks after the fire there is still an absence of answers from Shurgard for why and how the fire broke out.
London Fire Brigade are currently investigating the cause of the fire that destroyed the 1198 units at Purley Way, Croydon.
There were no staff onsite when the fire began and it is believed there were no sprinklers.
Croydon North MP Steve Reed said: “There are serious questions about the level of fire safety measures at the site.”
Victims are outraged by Shurgard’s response – several didn’t receive a phone call, just a generic email.
Others claim they are still being charged for using the storage unit despite repeatedly asking Shurgard to refund them.
Suki Bassi, 50, re-located to the West Midlands to develop her new business. She entrusted her lifetime belongings – worth an estimated £20,000 – to Shurgard.
She had the standard insurance, which, at best, offers compensation of £1,999, but said no amount of money can replace some of the items lost.
New Year’s Day is a bad time of the year for the wellbeing officer as 13 years ago on the day her younger brother was murdered.
Amid her lost belongings were letters he wrote to her.
Ms Bassi said: “It is a lifetime of memories I will never get back, I literally put my whole life in that storage unit – I thought it was secure.”
The 50-year-old – who received no phone call – said she has asked Shurgard several times to refund her direct debit to no avail.
“It is such a small and simple thing to do and the fact that they haven’t shows they don’t care,” she said.
She added: “There is no human element to their response.”
Kate Lawton, 45, of Crystal Palace, was moving house, and stored all the contents of her home in the Shurgard units.
She has lost all her worldly possessions – including the belongings of her mother who died when she was 16.
Ms Lawton said: “Everything that was a reminder of my mother is gone – it’s very painful – I’ve lost everything I owned apart from my clothes and my cat.”
The 45-year-old criticised Shurgard’s lack of compassion and said they didn’t appreciate the level of emotional distress the fire has caused to people.
She said: “Considering the devastation caused to so many people, they could have called people instead of sending a generic email to say the fire destroyed everything.”
She added: “I spent the first week in shock, now I feel determined to rebuild my life.”
The fire has triggered painful memories of nearly dying in a childhood fire for single mother-of-three Nicola Barker, 31.
Ms Barker was in the process of moving house and had put the entire contents of her three-bedroom house into storage just three weeks before the fire.
She has been very badly affected and is struggling to sleep and eat because of the trauma.
She said: “Every time I close my eyes I can see both fires all over again – Shurgard have ruined my life.”
Among the items destroyed by the fire were the belongings of her terminally ill father who lives in Australia where he moved three years ago.
She said: “I can’t afford to visit him so everything I had of his was in the units.”
Ms Barker said she is trying to remain strong for her children but is finding the process incredibly difficult.
Largely, she said she was disgusted by Shurgard’s response and is part of a group who are seeking legal action against the company.
She added: “I will put in everything I have to fight our case and prevent this happening to someone else – I just want answers.”
Shurgard has not responded to requests for comment.
A statement on the company’s website said: “Crediting all January invoices and refunding any payments already made has been started.
“We also continue to collaborate closely with all involved parties in order to identify the source and cause of the fire.”
Feature image shows Suki Bassi, who lost her belongings in the fire.