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Community rallies around Big Issue seller after he loses everything in wildfire

Locals in Truro have rushed to Big Issue vendor Steve Corbett’s aid after a wildfire in the park where he was staying destroyed his tent and belongings.

Big Issue vendor Steve Corbett and dog Blueberry

Steve Corbett and his dog Blueberry recently lost everything when their tent caught fire, and Steve is so grateful to everyone who rallied round to help them Image: Nick Cuthbert

A Truro Big Issue vendor has thanked locals for helping him get back on his feet after he lost all of his possessions in a wildfire earlier this month.

Steve Corbett was on his pitch outside Wilko in Truro city centre on August 6 when his customers alerted him to a fire in nearby Boscawen Park where he had been staying with pet Border Collie Blueberry.

The fire, which raged for seven hours before being put out by firefighters, burned three acres of woodland.

The 48-year-old ran down to his sleeping spot to find it cordoned off while firefighters battled the blaze and he discovered that his belongings had been lost to the flames.

“The first thing I thought was: “Damn, where are we going to stay?” because it’s your home, isn’t it?” Corbett told the Big Issue. “It’s sort of like when someone has a house fire and more than likely they are going to lose things like photographs and personal things that can’t be replaced or they’re attached to. Homeless people don’t tend to have that sort of thing.

“It did bother me at the time but not as much as it would somebody else. It happened around lunchtime and I did think: “Imagine if this had happened at night time when we were in the tent?”

Corbett, who has been sleeping rough on and off for seven years, lost all his possessions in the fire, including two tents, all of his clothes except the ones he was wearing as well as a gas stove, phone chargers and other personal items.

Following the fire, locals rushed to Corbett’s aid, setting up a crowdfunder that raised £350 while others helped him with spare clothes or supplies like a head torch.

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The Big Issue vendor said one of the police officers who attended the incident even dropped off spare sleeping bags and a replacement tent later that evening.

“People have been brilliant,” Corbett added. “One of the policemen at the incident phoned his wife up and asked her to take out their personal sleeping bags and his tent and that very same evening he drove into Truro and dropped them off for me which I thought was really nice. 

“I can’t be more thankful to people really.”

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