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Cottages to rise from the ashes

PUBLISHED: 08:46 06 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 March 2010

PICTURESQUE thatched cottages ruined by a blaze ripping through the roof are likely to be restored.

It took fire fighters from Suffolk and Norfolk around three hours to extinguish the fire after it broke out just after 8pm on Wednesday.

PICTURESQUE thatched cottages at Euston ruined by a blaze ripping through the roof are likely to be restored.

It took fire fighters from Suffolk and Norfolk around three hours to put out the fire which broke out just after 8pm on Wednesday.

Heaps of blackened straw, dragged from the roof by firefighters and pieces of broken furniture in smoke-stinking piles yesterday lay outside the 17th Century homes in the village near Thetford.

Despite the bleak outlook, the pretty rural scene is certain to be restored as the building's structure was yesterday pronounced safe and because the site is listed along with many other buildings in the village, owned by Lord Grafton's Euston Estate, it must be rebuilt.

The fire started in the chimney breast in the Lamberts' home and spread rapidly along the shared roof of the semi-detached homes, converted from three cottages.

Jean and Dennis Lambert were picking through the debris yesterday hunting for toys belonging to their eight-year-old son Neil, who went to school as normal yesterday.

Mrs Lambert, 50, said: "We've been living in the village 19 years and moved to this house 18 months ago. It was just idyllic. Now it just looks such a mess. You just don't think it will ever happen to you."

"We've mostly lost stuff from the bedroom. The firemen were absolutely brilliant. They dragged most of our furniture out in time."

The family's pet chipmunks and their chickens, goats and ducks were well away from the fire and will be cared for by Mrs Lambert's sister and her husband, who live next door to the cottages.

Neighbours Raymond and Irene Vaughn were not as lucky and almost everything is destroyed - apart from their clothes.

Mr Vaughn said: "Not a lot of it is salvageable but our clothes are not even damp. Hopefully we'll be able to move into another house in the village while they rebuild, but that could take up to 12 months."

Neighbours, friends and the estate have pulled out all the stops to help the residents - the Euston Estate has even offered to store the furniture for their tenants.

Divisional officer Paul Collins from Suffolk Fire Service, explained the house could be restored because of the way it was built nearly 300 years ago.

"The unsupported gables at either end are sufficiently strong to make it maintain a perpendicular aspect and the three chimneys are satisfactory as well.

"The wattle and dung walls are in fact stronger that a single line of bricks, so the whole thing is structurally sound."

A fire investigation was launched in the cause when the first fire engine arrived at the homes but will take months to established how the blaze began.

Fire broke out in a car at Felixstowe Motor Company yesterday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to the scene in Beach Station Road, Felixstowe and put out the blaze in 17 minutes.

Floor paint was spilt on the main road in Stowmarket and fire crews were called after reports of an unknown chemical spill.

It turned out to be 125 litres of floor paint. Police are liaising with the council over the spillage.

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