TYRONE Meigh claims he is being forced to live in his smoke-blackened council flat in Norton Fitzwarren following a fire on New Year’s Day.

He says that he has nowhere else to go after the council, which put him up in temporary accommodation for a fortnight following the blaze, told him it is his responsibility to clean it.

“My furniture’s all ruined, the walls are black with smoke and I can’t stop coughing in the flat,” said Mr Meigh, 38, who was re-housed by the council in a hostel until this week.

“The council says it’s up to me to clean the flat and get rid of the furniture.

“I don’t know how I’m going to be able to do that.

“My nephew said I could stay with him for a couple of days, but I don’t want to impose, so I’m sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag.

“The whole place is smoke damaged and my neighbours say the flat’s not fit for anyone to live in.

“I’m unemployed so I can’t afford to pay for any work and to hire a skip.”

Mr Meigh discovered smoke billowing from his flat in Dabinett Close after he returned from the shops late on New Year’s Day.

He was treated in hospital for the effects of smoke inhalation.

A Taunton Deane Council spokeswoman said she was unable to discuss individual cases.

She said: “In cases of a fire affecting a home owned by the council, we will do all we can do help a tenant back into the property once it is safe to do so.

“Temporary accommodation is arranged if the property is not habitable.”

She said the tenant can clean up cosmetic damage such as smoke residue, or pay the council to do it for them.

Tenants, who are free to end their tenancy if they wish, are encouraged to take out home and contents insurance.

She added: “The council only insures the structure and fixtures in the building.

“Details of ‘pay-as-you-go’ insurance are available so tenants can safeguard their possessions at an affordable cost.”