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Clear up operation after fire

PUBLISHED: 14:47 25 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:43 03 March 2010

A HUGE clear up operation is going on today after tonnes of straw had to be ripped from a Suffolk cottage when the thatched roof caught light.

Quick acting firefighters managed to save the row of picturesque terraced cottages after just one spark from a newly lit fire set one of the roofs alight.

A HUGE clear up operation is going on today after tonnes of straw had to be ripped from a Suffolk cottage when the thatched roof caught light.

Quick acting firefighters managed to save the row of picturesque terraced cottages after just one spark from a newly lit fire set one of the roofs alight.

It was a lucky escape for the owners of the eighteenth century property in Old Street, Haughley who have lived there for four years.

A passer by had alerted the occupant of the house Emma Riggey who had just lit a fire inside and had no idea the roof was also alight.

Her husband Adam, 27, paid tribute to the fire service for acting so quickly and stopping the fire spreading anywhere else.

He said: "Nothing else was affected. The only damage was just to the straw.

"They saved the house."

Adam's uncle Owen Ager lives next door to the couple and the fire had also spread to his roof so family members were rallying round in the clean up operation.

Neighbour Roger Sweetman was out when the fire started and had the shock of his life when he returned home to find the road closed off.

Only a small section of his roof was affected and he knows that it could have been far worse. He said: "It is amazing that it did not spread all the way along.

"Usually when thatch goes up the timber goes as well."

Six fire engines from across the county, including Stowmarket along with support vehicles from Ipswich and Felixstowe were called to the scene at around 1pm yesterday.

Assistant Divisional Officer Kevin Burton, based in Bury St. Edmunds said that thatch fires were difficult to tackle because thatch is designed not to let any water in and the thatch just had to be lifted off.

He said: "One of the big problems is that the thatch is only smouldering but when it is lifted away it allows air in and the fire starts again.

"The firefighters are constantly being wetted down.

"It is a bit like being in the middle of a bonfire and trying to take it away piece by piece.

"They did well to save as much as they did and it is very lucky that it did not spread."

Crews were at the scene for around two hours but were due to return later in the evening with thermal imaging cameras to make sure that the straw had not begun to smoulder again.

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