Phoenix Campaign: Fire victims talk of their struggle

LAST UPDATED: 27 Dec, 2012 @ 09:11
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Phoenix Campaign: Fire victims talk of their struggle

By Frances Leate

MOVING to Spain and building your perfect home is a dream come true for most Brits.

After half a lifetime of working and two heart attacks, Peter Doran, a builder from Blackburn, came out to Mijas and did just that.

He bought a plot of land and believing he had secured a license he built a beautiful three-bedroom home for his wife and daughter.

But ten years later disaster struck, his home in Rio De Las Pasadas was one of hundreds of properties that were burnt to the ground during the Malaga Fires earlier this year.

Mr Doran, 56, said: “We were living the dream for a while. I had suffered two heart attacks and the doctors said the warmer climate would help with my health.

“We put our hearts and souls into our home.”

Peter described a blind panic when the family was told by a neighbour on the night of August 30 that the fire was getting closer to their property.

He said: “We’d been out for the day and when we heard we rushed back. Thank god my daughter was staying with a friend.

“We got the dogs in the back of the van, my wife rushed in the house, grabbed a suitcase full of our documents like passports and birth certificates and that was all we had time to get.

“There was thick smoke, police and fire crews everywhere and cats, dogs and horses just running down the hill away from the fire.

“When we drove away that night, with just the clothes on our back and a suitcase full of paperwork we stopped the car and turned to look and there were just flames everywhere.”

The next day when discovering the remains of their home, which was now just a roof and rubble lying on the ground, Peter decided he wanted to get his property fixed as soon as possible.

But this was when he discovered the license he thought he had purchased to build the home ten years ago was actually just a license to build a wall around the land and paint it white.

For the last three months, while they have been seeking permission from the Spanish authorities to rebuild, he has been sleeping at a friend’s apartment with his wife while their teenage daughter has had to go to live in the UK with a cousin.

He said: “It’s been heartbreaking for the whole family; my girl was settled here.

“She just wants to be back with her friends and her mum and we just want our lives back to how it was before the fire.

“I am ready to start the rebuilding work this minute if I could, but I know I would be risking prison if I did.”

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16 COMMENTS

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  1. Who was it that lied to these people sufficiently to allow them to build a house and live in it for ten years? A lawyer? An estate agent? The local big-wig? All of them? No doubt there will be an avalanche of schadenfreude from folk who are much “wiser”. but I’m betting these people were completely convinced they were on the right side of the law when they built their house. One would be mad to do otherwise.

  2. Sue Doran, although there is no mention of you in the article, I am going to assume that you are the wife of Peter.

    If that is the case, did you actually take out buildings insurance? You didn´t actually say whether you did or did not.

  3. How can you build a house, when the licence states you can only build a wall ? Dont they read ? Let the paperwork be checked out BEFORE doing anything…i feel very much for those people, but would you build something in the U.K. whitout proper paperwork ?

  4. Just for the record and for the benefit of readers, insurance (any insurance) is null and void if your paperwork is deemed retrospectively incorrect/ilegal. In Spain, it can almost be a waste of time having insurance, which is of course why most locals do not.

  5. I wonder which planet Fred lives on. It certainly isn´t Earth, or even Spain.

    Of course most (Spanish) locals have home and contents insurance. They also live in fully legal homes, in towns, villages, cities and…in the countryside. If you want to know more, just walk into your nearest MAPFRE office and ask. Of course, you may need to speak a bit of Spanish.

    It is only the “guiris” (mostly Northern Europeans) who live in properties built illegally in the countryside who do not bother with home insurance.

    Naturally, by now you will have worked out why I said that what Fred says has more in common with verbal diarroeah than good sense.

  6. In the recent Malaga fires there were scores of Spanish families affected. Likewise, across Spain in general, the Spanish are affected massively by the illegal builds scandal. The constant attibution of such issues solely to foreign residents is just plain ignorance and further shows your zero knowledge of the subject.

    One can have insurance, and insurance companies will gladly sell you insurance, but when it comes to claim it’s a whole different ball game.

  7. Even in this paper some years ago many insurers did not pay out on legal homes after heavy rains as they said they were over 10 years old, not maintained as they should have been and a multitude of other excuses. If you live in the UK and your home is empty for x days in Spain you cannot claim and so on, these rae the typical excuses. I have no insurance on one of my properties as I cannot see the point if they are going to look for every loophole not to pay.

  8. My next door neighbour is Spanish. She has lived in this area all of her life. She and her husband built a lovely new home about 7 years ago. It is an illegal build and there are countless other Spanish built illegal houses within a few miles. It is not the preserve of the gruiris at all.

    Fred is quite right: why bother with insurance, if you know you won’t get paid out? The companies will find any excuse not to pay you. Deluge of rain through the roof; bad maintenance. Deluge of rain through the floor; bad luck.

    Of course, having insurance makes sense, but only if your paperwork is 100% correct (mine is, thank you) and you don’t actually expect them to pay out in the event of a claim.

  9. Over 300,000 properties in Andalucia built illegally. (I believe it is more) Around two years ago, the junta allowed for the legalisation of these properties. Where was the notice posted? in the BOE. Not even the Spanish check these bulletins on a regular basis. Thing is they get to hear by word of mouth. I would not blame persons for purchasing homes built without licences. After all, was this not the way in cute old Spain. Please note. The town halls were and still will legalise homes. When it comes to rebuilding. Remember that the town hall and the Junta, will treat the fires and the aftermath, as a money making opportunity.

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