A FORMER professional rugby league player has shared his heartbreak after ‘losing everything’ in a devastating house fire yesterday, Friday.

Ex-St Helens and Widnes Vikings forward John Stankevitch has uploaded video footage of the damage caused to his home following the blaze.

The now 42-year-old, who took to the field at the highest level in British club rugby, was asleep in his Widnes home with his family when the fire took hold.

He said that had they not got out when they did, they would ‘be dead’ as the roof collapsed after an electrical fault caused the attic to catch fire.

Posting on Twitter, John said: “In the early hours of the morning, our house burnt down and we lost everything.

“At 4.45am my daughter raised the alarm. Five minutes later and we would have all been dead as the roof caved in.

“The fire was caused by an electrical fault in the attic above the bathroom. What a day.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that at around 4.45am, four fire engines from Runcorn, Widnes, Penketh and Chester fire stations were dispatched to a property in Widnes.

This followed reports of a fire breaking out in the loft space, and on inspection, it was discovered that the fire involved the insulation of a cavity wall in the loft of the timber framed home.

With the help of an aerial ladder appliance from Chester Fire Station, crews were able to extinguish the flames and expose the roof space to check for any remaining hot spots.

A thermal imaging camera was also used to ensure that the fire had not spread to any other parts of the building.

In a later tweet this morning, John added: “Managed to get three hours uninterrupted sleep.

Runcorn and Widnes World: John wearing the red vee of St Helens during his playing daysJohn wearing the red vee of St Helens during his playing days

“Trying to think logically now after losing everything in the house fire yesterday.

“Need to find somewhere else to live in the next few days and start to replace beds, TVs, wardrobes, electrical items, etc. Sentimental items all gone.”

The tweets were met with shock and sympathy from people wishing John and his family well over what will inevitably be a difficult couple of days, weeks and months.

John played in the red vee of St Helens between the 2000 and 2004 seasons, making 131 appearances and scoring 26 tries.

He donned the jersey of Widnes during the 2005 season on 22 occasions, also beginning his coaching career at the club as Senior Academy Head Coach in 2006.

He returned to Widnes after a spell as head coach at Doncaster, he returned to Widnes in 2007 as assistant first team coach, until he was appointed caretaker head coach between January and June 2009.