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Last owner of Rushmere St Andrew home destroyed in blaze would be ‘heartbroken’

PUBLISHED: 17:14 25 October 2017

The burnt remains of a derelict thatched cottage in The Street in Rushmere St Andrew.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The burnt remains of a derelict thatched cottage in The Street in Rushmere St Andrew. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The last owners to live in a fire-ravaged house in Rushmere St Andrew would “spinning in their graves” if they could see what had happened to their much-loved home, a relative said today.

Firefighters tackling the thatched roof blaze at The Street, Rushmere St Andrew, on Tuesday night. Picture: SKY CAM EAST Firefighters tackling the thatched roof blaze at The Street, Rushmere St Andrew, on Tuesday night. Picture: SKY CAM EAST

The last owners to live in a fire-ravaged house in Rushmere St Andrew would “spinning in their graves” if they could see what had happened to their much-loved home, a relative said today.

Fire tore through the now-derelict thatched cottage on The Street on Tuesday night.

It had been unoccupied for more than 10 years since its owner Norah Baldwin died at the age of 94. She was the widow of Ipswich butcher Charles Baldwin who had died 10 years earlier.

Their daughter, June, had died before her, so the house was left to 12 local and national charities. However, nothing ever happened to the property, and Mrs Baldwin’s nephew Paul Nixon said surviving members of the family were angered by what had happened to the house over the last decade.

He said there had been attempts by the charities to obtain planning permission to demolish the house and redevelop the land, which prompted huge local opposition from residents in the area.

He said: “My uncle and aunt would be spinning in their graves if they could see what has happened to their home. They loved that house – Uncle Charlie lived there almost all his life. He would be heartbroken to see this.”

Fire crews spent all night damping down the flames after Tuesday evening’s blaze and firefighters remained on the scene for much of Wednesday.

Senior office Dave Collins said a full investigation of the causes of the fire would follow – but after making a preliminary inspection of the site it did not appear that there had been a break-in before the fire.

June Baldwin and her father, Charles. Picture: PAUL NIXON June Baldwin and her father, Charles. Picture: PAUL NIXON

By the time the first fire crews arrived the thatched roof was already well alight and the fact that there had been fireworks let off from properties near the house meant that was a factor that could not be ruled out.

He said: “There will still need to be further investigations into how the fire started, but we have not found anything to suggest there was a break-in before the fire,”

He said it was often difficult to tell whether a fire in thatch had started above or below the roof because of the way it could spread through thatch.

At its height more than 60 firefighters were fighting the blaze after the alarm was raised shortly before 7am on Tuesday night.

The house before it was damaged by fire. Picture: PAUL NIXON The house before it was damaged by fire. Picture: PAUL NIXON

There were two buildings on the land and firefighters managed to prevent the blaze spreading to other empty house there which has a tiled roof.

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