A DEVASTATED pensioner said his beloved garden has been “ruined” after bags of ink powder exploded into the air during a neighbour’s fire.

John Leonard, 69, has battled leukaemia for four years but makes sure to keep active by tending to the back garden of his house in Coronation Road, Clacton.

But Mr Leonard and wife Marilyn, 71, were left reeling after a blaze at a neighbouring property caused the bags of blue ink to burst into the air.

Homes, fences, patios, roofs, cars and even cats and dogs were left with a blue coating.

Mrs Leonard says her insurer will have to fork out thousands of pounds to cover the costs of the damage.


“We have had the assessors round and the shed has to go,” she said.

“The ink is in our loft, the insulation will all have to be replaced.

“Our neighbour’s lawn has to be dug up about six inches deep, ours will likely be the same.

“The assessor for our insurer couldn’t believe it.

“It will cost thousands of pounds.

“My husband lives for this garden - it keeps him going.

“He is absolutely devastated.


“The vegetable patch is ruined. We’ll be getting blue strawberries. There’s blue ink all over the plants and it’s killing a tree in our garden which has been here for years.

“You go out in the garden and you come back in with it all over you.”

The fire broke out in a boat and shed in Coppins Road in Clacton on January 29.

Firefighters were called at 8.54pm and had extinguished the flames by 10pm but when water got onto to eight sacks of ink powder they blew up covering everything nearby.

Environmental health teams were called because of the ink.

The powder was found to be harmless and fire crews dug a trench to isolate the smouldering powder.


Mrs Leonard said the impact of the fire is long and lasting for neighbours.

She has lived in the house with her husband for 48 years.

“One of my neighbours has to get a new kitchen fitted,” she said.

“Another has had to fence off half the garden to stop the dogs going up to the end.”

She added: “It’s John’s 70th birthday soon but we don’t feel like celebrating. I haven’t slept since this happened, it’s a stress we don’t need.

“John isn’t on any medication, he has to have a review every six months and blood tests but he seems to be keeping the cancer at bay. I think it is his positive attitude but this whole ordeal has knocked him for six.”

A Tendring Council spokesman said: "An investigation has taken place and the blue ink does not pose any risk to public health.

"Because there isn’t any associated risks the land owners have been notified and are responsible for any clear-up".