Eccentric Jake Mangel Wurzel has told how he fled a blaze at his makeshift home and said: “Twenty seconds later I’d have been a goner.”
Jake, who is 78 next month, has lost everything in a house fire for the second time in six years.
Renowned for his bizarre lifetstyle and madcap antics, Jake lived in an old static caravan at Peat Ponds, off Lindley Moor Road, Salendine Nook.
His previous cottage home nearby was gutted back in July 2010.
Jake – the self-styled King of the Eccentics – told the Examiner how the fire broke out at 11.15pm on Thursday as he watched television in bed.
The fire had started near his solid fuel stove at the other end of the caravan and he emerged to find his home engulfed in choking smoke.
“It was my own fault,” he said. “I can’t say exactly what happened but I have no-one to blame but myself.
“I was in bed watching TV and opened the door to find the place full of black smoke.
“I tried to get some water but there was nothing I could do. It was just like a fireball.
“I just got out in time. If I had been in there another 20 seconds I would have been a goner. It was a close run thing.”
Neighbours dialled 999 and firefighters arrived to tackle the blaze.
Jake had a dog, a Jack Russell, who disappeared in the confusion. He hopes the dog bolted and would return but fears he may have perished in the smoke and flames.
Jake, who made a profession out of his stunts in a 30-year career, lost everything in 2010 when his home was gutted.
A hoarder, Jake says he has lost everything again.
“I rebuilt from scratch last time and I’ve got to do it all over again,” he said. “But I am not beaten. I am still smiling and I am not ready to surrender.”
Jake spent Thursday night in his car and will probably continue to sleep in there until he can find a new caravan.
He’s appealed to anyone who can sell him an old static caravan, 30ft x10ft, for up to £500 as a temporary home. Long-term he wants to rebuild his original cottage.
A friend is set to organise a Crowdfunding appeal to raise £60,000.
“I am absolutely desperate,” he said. “We want to get the appeal viral. I am not greedy but the King of the Eccentrics is down on his uppers.
“People have milked my career for 30 years. Now it’s payback time.”
In 2014 Jake was the subject of a documentary by film-maker Michelle Heighway. Called Mr Somebody the film had several local screenings and was released on DVD.
Jake claimed it didn’t do his life story justice and had a bitter fall-out with Michelle.
Fire crews from Huddersfield and Rastrick spent an hour and a half at the fire scene.
Neighbour Balbir Dawett told how his family raised the alarm.
“It was my son Amit who noticed first because our dogs kept barking,” he said. “Amit went outside to see what was going on and rang the fire brigade.
“It’s terrible. We’re very sorry for him, especially because it’s the second time he has lost everything.
“We always try help him when we can and want to let him know that if he wants anything, like blankets, he can come to us.”