Felixstowe: Family thanks fire crews in Alexandra Road lightning bolt blaze

A FAMILY devastated after losing their home in a fire sparked by a bolt of lightning today thanked Felixstowe fire crews for their instant response.

Paul and Natalie Rogers managed to salvage their precious wedding photos, their three-piece suite and their teenage son’s laptop from the remains of their house.

And Mr Rogers, 46, said he and his family were “very grateful” for their local firefighters’ incredible effort to get to the Alexandra Road property in just four minutes.

The fire service were alerted to the blaze at 2.50pm, had officers in an engine at 2.51pm and arrived at 2.54pm.

Had proposed cuts gone ahead, the family could have been left waiting for on-call crews to be scrambled, or worse, a back up crew to travel from Ipswich – a journey of 11 minutes or more.

“We needed them today,” said Mr Rogers, speaking after yesterday’s electric storm.

The Felixstowe firefighters were not the only heroes of the hour, Darren Southall and other brave neighbours ran into the house before they arrived to rescue the Rogers’ family pet, a rottweiler named Blade.

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Mr Southall, 33, said: “I looked through the window and could see the dog there. When we got in we had to go through the house to reach him and all the time I could hear the fire crackling above us and everything falling down from the loft.

“We just got in there as quickly as we could, got the dog and got out again as fast as possible.”

Ashley Dunningham, 25, of Queen Street, who helped in the rescue, added: “Everything happened so quickly after the huge clap of

thunder. There was smoke coming from the roof immediately and to hear the ceilings were collapsing was terrible – the smoke was making people’s eyes sting.”

Neither Mr Rogers, a lorry driver, nor his 37-year-old wife, who works for shipping company MSC, were home at the time but Mrs Rogers dashed back as soon as she heard.

She said she was imagining all kinds of horrors as she drove home, knowing her house was on fire and was greeted by four fire engines, a support pump, turntable ladder and 25 firefighters.

“I am so glad the men were able to get Blade out – he is a lovely dog and we have had him since he was a puppy. He probably knew they were trying to help him, which is why he was just happy to go with them,” she said.

“It’s difficult to make sense of something like this. At the end of the day these things happen – and today it just happened to be my house that was struck by lightning.”

The couple spent the night with relatives, while their son stayed with a friend, but today they began the process of piecing their lives back together, meeting with the fire service and beginning proceedings with their insurance company.

Mrs Rogers said: “I don’t know what’s going to happen now. I don’t think the house looks very structurally sound, but we need to wait and see what the fire officers say.”

Fire officers said the bolt of lightning had gone through the roof, the loft and upstairs ceiling into the bedrooms of the house.

? Where you affected by the storms? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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