Gallery: Police launch inquiry after major blaze

A MAJOR investigation was launched yesterday after police revealed a fire which threatened to destroy an historic Suffolk house was started deliberately.

Ken McErlain

A MAJOR investigation was launched yesterday after police revealed a fire which threatened to destroy an historic Suffolk house was started deliberately.

Cyndy and Anthony Hilton, of Priory Hall, Benton Street, Hadleigh, were woken on Sunday morning to find their indoor swimming pool - next to their Tudor timber-framed historic home - engulfed in flames.

The alarm was raised by a passing motorist but the couple and their three children could only watch in horror as the building which housed the swimming pool was burnt to the ground.


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However, they praised firefighters for preventing the flames from spreading to their home which is used as a wedding venue catering for up to 120 guests.

Mrs Hilton, a freelance journalist, said: “We were fast asleep when someone banged on the door and shouted 'get out your house is on fire'.

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“We got everybody out, including our cat and dog, and waited for the fire brigade - that was the hardest part.

“The flames were huge and we were terrified that they would spread to our home. It's a timber building so it would have gone up in smoke.

“The firemen have done a brilliant job to put it out so quickly. But to see the pool reduced to rubble is a very depressing sight.”

The swimming pool, in an extension building next to the main property, was completely destroyed by the fire - causing around �500,000 worth of damage.

But Mrs Hilton, who has lived at the property for 17 years, added that the situation could have been far worse.

“Luckily we have brilliant neighbours who had called the fire brigade quickly,” she added.

“We also want to thank the passing man who knocked on our door - we didn't have time to properly speak to him.

“So if he's out there he's welcome to come forward - we'd love to shake his hand.

“It was a stroke of luck that he was driving past at that time - but if he hadn't been then I dread to think what might have happened.”

Firefighters were called to the scene at just before 8am and fought for more than hour to bring the blaze under control.

In all, five firecrews were called to the scene, two from Princes Street, Ipswich, one from Colchester Road, Ipswich, and one each from Hadleigh and Nayland.

Mrs Hilton added that the fire would not prevent weddings taking place at the home throughout the year.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said the CID team are investigating the blaze as an arson endangering life. They believe the fire was started deliberately in a wood pile near to the building.

The spokeswoman appealed for any witnesses or anyone in the area between around 7am and 8am to contact CID on 01473 613500.

Were you the passing driver? Contact our newsdesk on 01473 324788.

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