Blaze wrecks cottage roof

FIREFIGHTERS today remained at the scene of a cottage fire, from which an elderly couple escaped uninjured. Eight fire crews from Suffolk and Essex were called to the blaze in little Waldingfield yesterday, which took three hours to quell.

FIREFIGHTERS today remained at the scene of a cottage fire, from which an elderly couple escaped uninjured.

Eight fire crews from Suffolk and Essex were called to the blaze in Little Waldingfield near Sudbury yesterday, which took three hours to quell.

Seventy per cent of the large cottage's thatch roof was damaged and 16 firefighters had to wear breathing apparatus when tackling the fire.

Firefighters from Hadleigh, Sudbury, Long Melford, Nayland, Clare, Bury and Essex were called to the fire at Priory Green at 3.31pm.


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Narrow country roads meant the majority of firefighters had to travel to the blaze on foot, leaving their fire engines on wider main roads.

The fire quickly took hold and destroyed large sections of thatch, belching smoke into the dusky sky and leaving blackened roof timbers exposed.

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It is thought the blaze began in a wood-burning stove, which the homeowner lit shortly after lunch.

He then noticed smoke pouring from his rooftop and called the fire brigade before leading his wife to safety and attempting to salvage as much of their property as possible.

The fire was eventually put out by 6.11pm, but two crews remained to continue salvage work and to dampen down hot spots, found using a thermal imaging camera.

Suffolk deputy chief fire officer Ken Seager said: "The only real tactic with thatch is to strip it off the roof to make a fire break.

"These roofs are designed to be waterproof, so we have to pull off all the burning thatch and extinguish it piece by piece.

"These types of fire tend to be very manpower intensive, and tackling them is very exhausting work. It is a long slog and the crews do get very tired."

Assistant divisional officer Ian Bowel, added: "Our operational support unit from Haverhill provided a shelter where we salvaged the occupants' furniture."

The residents were not at the scene as The Evening Star went to press today.

n Suffolk firefighters also tackled a chimney fire in Bacton, near Bury St Edmunds, last night.

The blaze broke out shortly after 7pm in a chimney in Bacton Hall Lane in Bacton.

One fire crew attended the scene and the small fire was under control by 7.47pm.

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