London, June 5 (ANI): In one of those rare, bizarre accidents, a 4-pound paperweight caused 300,000 pounds of fire damage to a family's 1 million pound home.
Fire fighters believe the paperweight, which had been left in an upstairs conservatory, concentrated rays from the sun on to a pile of books and set them alight.
The accident destroyed the roof of the house, sending it crashing into an indoor swimming pool underneath - leaving the owners Martin and Ruth Ball with only the clothes they were wearing after the fire.
The couple is temporarily homeless, as the house will take months to repair, at a cost estimated to be between 250,000 pounds and 300,000 pounds.
"It's heartbreaking. My father-in-law built this house and we just had to stand there and watch it burn.
"We've basically lost everything. We're staying in a hotel at the minute but after that day we didn't even have a toothbrush.
"It happened just after the really hot weekend we had and obviously the heat had been building up through the day and the sun was still quite high at 3pm. The way the house was built there's a swimming pool at the back and our bedroom connects to a small conservatory over the pool.
"I had a small glass paperweight up there on the window ledge and it's the only thing that fire investigators have decided could possibly have caused it.
"It's just not something you would ever even think about, but since then I've heard other stories about fires starting through mirrors and things.
"Obviously, I would never have put it there if I could have foreseen this.
"We're just thankful no one was hurt. After all, they are only possessions and can be replaced - your family cannot," The Daily Express quoted Ruth as saying.
The fire was initially spotted by the couple's 16-year-old son Elliot. But by the time the fire fighters were summoned, most of the house had already been damaged. The couple's daughter Natalie, 20, was not at home and their Newfoundland dog Leyla was also safe.
John Caulton group manager for Derbyshire Fire Service was one of the first crew members on the scene.
He said, "It's a freak accident and this kind of thing is very, very rare.
"Anything which concentrates the sunlight in that way could cause the same hazard and with the weather last week between 82 and 84F it was just the right conditions for it.
"To think that a paperweight, which probably cost about #4, could have caused 300,000 pounds worth of damage is just tragic.
"It was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong kind of weather." (ANI)