Couple salute fire service heroes after thatch blaze

SUFFOLK: A couple today praised the “fantastic” efforts of the fire service after a blaze tore through their 400-year-old thatched cottage.

The fire caused serious damage to St Ambrose Cottage in Forward Green, near Stowmarket on Friday evening.

Ten fire appliances were involved as the flames ripped through the roof of the listed property, filling it with smoke.

Although firefighters managed to put out the fire and remove many of Brian and Barbara Page’s possessions, much of what was recovered was left badly smoke-damaged.

The couple, who are in their 60s and have five children, said they were just relieved that nobody had been hurt.

The previous night their young grandson had been sleeping in an upstairs room that had been gutted by the flames.

Mrs Page said she was very relieved that only she and her husband had been at home at the time.

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She said: “The firemen were fantastic and got as much out as they possibly could.

“We were at home and Brian said it looked foggy outside but then we realised something was up and went out and saw some flames coming from the thatch.

“It spread quite quickly – I’ve never seen anything go so quick. I’m just glad it was only the two of us at home –no pets or children to get out of bed.”

She said that at times there were as many as 80 firefighters battling the inferno that left the roof beams charred and the gables standing precariously.

One fire crew remained at the scene well into Saturday to ensure the fire was completely extinguished.

Mrs Page added: “We’ve lived here for 30 years and never had a fire, not even a chimney fire.

"It’s sad. It’s a bit of history that’s gone.

“We even had the Salvation Army here during the fire, giving out coffee, tea and burgers.

"The neighbours have been fantastic and people we don’t even know have come and given us hugs.”

The couple will now stay in a mobile home at the site as they repair and restore the cottage once it has been inspected by their insurers and made safe by builders.

n Do you have any words of support for Mr and Mrs Page? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk