THE victim of a York house fire has told how Red Cross volunteers helped him to recover from his traumatic experience.

Lee Maloney, whose home in Tang Hall is still uninhabitable five months after the severe kitchen blaze, said: “I cannot praise these guys enough. I could not have got through this without them.”

He was speaking as the British Red Cross marked the first anniversary of its new service, which provides vital support to victims of fires, flood and other emergencies in North Yorkshire from a base at Acomb fire station.

Coordinator Janet Waite revealed its team of volunteers had helped more than 50 people in its first year, and said it hoped to recruit more volunteers so it could expand its York service to operate on a 24/7 basis and also launch a new service in Scarborough.

Mr Maloney, 68, said he and his wife Linda were travelling to Liverpool last September when a fire – probably started by an old breadmaker which had accidentally been switched on – broke out in the kitchen at their home in Millfield Avenue.

A neighbour called the fire service and firefighters put out the blaze, but the Maloneys returned home to find the kitchen had been gutted and there was severe smoke damage throughout the rest of the house.

They also found Red Cross volunteers Christine Bennett and Ian Lund waiting for them with their specially adapted van, which has a comfortable seating area and is fully stocked with essential items like hot drinks, food, clothing and toiletries.

He said they provided clothing and dealt with his insurers and helped to find alternative accommodation, but also helped him and his wife cope with the shock.

“It was incredible,” he said. “They provided practical and emotional support. If it wasn’t for the Red Cross, we wouldn’t be where we are today. They are absolutely brilliant.”

• Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or finding our more about the service can contact Janet Waite on, phone 01904 691191, or visit Prospective volunteers in the Scarborough area can phone Ruth Dale on 01723 376783.