Charlene Clarke, 33, says her life has been ruined by her ex Zak Rodda, 32, who started the fire in her bedroom, before spreading to four neighbouring terraced homes on May 14, this year.
He then sent his former partner of 15 years a series of disturbing messages saying: ‘Look see the light, I warned you’ and ‘there she goes, goodbye’.
The blaze then began tearing through the homes in Illogan, Cornwall, and causing £100,000 worth of damage.
A court was told how, after lighting the fire, Rodda went to the pub and told other customers: ‘I’ve done something bad, I’ve set fire to a mattress and it got out of control. I tried to put it out.’
Several people, including Charlene, are still living in emergency accommodationafter watching their homes burn to the ground, leaving nothing more than empty ‘shells’.
Charlene, a care-home manager, claimed her insurance company refused payout because Rodda is the policy holder – leaving her and their young daughter, Larenza, nine, homeless.
Rodda was sentenced to six years in prison after admitting to arson and being reckless to whether life is endangered, at Truro Crown Court on July 19.
Charlene said: ‘He’s ruined my life. We have no home, my little girl is terrified and I’ve had to move back in with my mum.
‘I’ve been off work with anxiety, I just can’t quite believe that he would do this to us. Even the judge said he wished he could give him life.
‘I’ve got such bad guilt, for my neighbours, family, and daughter. We’re so lucky no one was seriously hurt in the fire.
‘We’d been together for 15 years – it just shows you never really do know someone.’
Charlene says in March 2019 Rodda packed up and left her for another woman leaving her ‘heartbroken.’
When he came back to her just weeks later she stood her ground, refusing to rekindle their volatile relationship but claims Rodda refused to leave the family home.
On the night of the fire Rodda and Charlene had been at another house for a family memorial for his aunt.
Drunk Rodda wanted her to leave with him but when she said no he left in anger and went back to their house and started the fire.
She said: ‘I feel so guilty for all our poor neighbours. A few of them didn’t have home insurance so they have lost everything. It’s literally unbelievable what he’s done.’
‘I’m so grateful for all the support from my neighbours which I feel I don’t deserve, and to my family for all the help I’ve received since the fire,’ she added.
‘I can never forgive him for what he’s done’.
Prosecuting Deni Matthews told the court how the fire devastated homes between number 47 and 53 at Bridge Road in Illogan.
Mr Matthews said: ‘The property is in a terrace and the fire took hold quite quickly. It was a very windy day and the fire spread, all four houses were left inhabitable and severely damaged.
‘They were effectively turned to shells and damage is in excess of £100,000.’
Sentencing Rodda, Judge Simon Carr said: ‘You were in a relationship that had its difficulties and you yourself accept you were a controlling influence.
‘The relationship came to an end and you were at the time living in one of the homes that was eventually destroyed.
‘You destroyed four homes and when you set the fire people were in them. They would have been aware and terrified.
They all got out but one elderly, disabled woman wouldn’t have if her carer wasn’t there. They all stood and stared as their houses burned in front of them.
‘All of the people had to be rehomed and it’s not sure if the houses will be able to be rebuilt. You did all of that to show you were in control.’