Brand Amsterdam took everything from Lotte: pictures, clothes and – most importantly – her cat

How is Lotte? “Not well. Well, actually not well at all,” she told RTL Nieuws today. “I can’t eat, I can’t drink well, I get so anxious. And when I’m in bed, I see everything again. Then it’s all smoked up again and it’s black before my eyes.”

Lotte lived on the first floor of an apartment complex in the Slotervaart district of Amsterdam, where about 75 container homes were destroyed by a fire on Sunday. She had thrown a party on Saturday night, so she was still asleep Sunday morning when the fire broke out around 8:30 am.

Everyone started screaming

“I usually go to my horse every Sunday morning, but now I have a one-time nap. However, I got up about half past eight and thought: What am I hearing?” There was a noise in the hallway, so Lotte decided to take a look. A great noise appeared out of nowhere: many people started screaming, the corridor was already filled with black smoke, police officers arrived and residents ran out of their homes in panic.

“Someone wanted to drag me away from my studio. I quickly closed the door, because first I had to rescue my animals with my friend. But they were so shocked by the noise that they crawled under the bed. It was such a drama: I had to try to save three cats and a dog in a few seconds.”

“a terrible feeling”

Fortunately, Lotte quickly managed to catch her dog and cat, along with her phone and car keys. She ran downstairs, put two of her pets in her car, and ran back to her other two cats. “But then he wouldn’t let me in anymore, I was stopped. My reasoning, but that was a really horrible feeling.”

Also because her boyfriend was still inside. Finally, after inhaling a lot of smoke, he also came out. With only one cat. Versace, the street cat Lotte rescued from outside 2.5 years ago, wasn’t there. “The firefighters went to look for her in the afternoon, but they couldn’t do it. I was devastated. I got a lot of strength from the fact that I was able to save the other animals, that my friend and I saved them ourselves, but of course it’s terrible.”

Fundraising

The fact that all of her other belongings have already burned—her clothes, laptops, pictures, her grandfather’s valuables, and her deceased mother-in-law’s farewell letter—hurts her greatly. She is relieved that friends and her sister-in-law have now started a fundraiser. “Because of this work, I now get so many beautiful letters and people think of me. It supports me in this strange time.”

However, he will not return things to her. I realized this yesterday when she walked along Voetbalstraat, where her studio was still standing on Saturday evening. “It was so intense to see it, it was all gone. But I had to see it for myself, as a piece of processing. And I also had to do it to see that my house wasn’t really there anymore, that Versace wasn’t there anymore. Because I still can’t believe it.”

Research in the fire safety complex

Police arrested a 27-year-old resident of the apartment complex on suspicion of arson. It’s still stuck. In addition, the police and firefighters are checking the building’s fire safety.

On the basis of the photos, “clearly something was amiss,” fire safety experts say, allowing the fire to spread rapidly. Important issues in fire safety in container homes include the amount of space there is between buildings and the type of materials they are constructed from. If there is a large distance between them, a shaft is erected, which often causes the fire to spread rapidly. Whether this is the case here is not clear.

Yesterday, Mayor Phimke Halsima said during a site visit that her voices also reached that there are concerns about the fire safety of the homes. “At the moment it is being investigated as to whether that is in dispute here,” he added.

She hopes to be able to make a fresh start with the money raised for Lotte. In the meantime, she has been given special leave by her employer, she has to recover from her foot which was badly bruised during her trip, and above all, she will have to arrange a lot, such as a new ID card. “Yesterday we met up with other residents who also had nothing left. Everyone is sad, angry, disappointed and desperate. We have a lot of questions about how this happened, but we also received very few answers.”

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