Heroes thanked for saving lives during cannabis farm house fire

Kitchener fire presentation

Local councillor Debbie Richards, Paul Cafabona and Margaret Gardener at the presentation. - Credit: Paul Geater

Heroes who helped to save their neighbours after a major fire broke out in an illegal cannabis farm in Ipswich have been given community awards. 

Kitchener Road residents

Residents came together to thank the heroes who saved lives as the Kitchener Road fire started. - Credit: Debbie Richards

Paul Cafabona drove home to Kitchener Road with his family at 10.30pm on Sunday, May 29, when his daughter Sky pointed out smoke was billowing out of a house just down the road.

He called the fire service and then with 15-year-old Sky and neighbour John Lucken started knocking on people's doors to alert them to the danger.

"I tried the house where we'd first seen the smoke but didn't get any response - but very soon it had gone from smoke to really big flames and we couldn't get near it.

"It was Sky who first saw the smoke and we all made sure people were out as soon as we could - it was very fierce but the people had got out by the time the fire brigade arrived.

"The first crew was here within 10 minutes but by then the fire was really well alight."

Suffolk fire crews at the scene of the blaze in Kitchener Road, Ipswich

Firefighters were at the scene all night and most of the following day - Credit: Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service

The property next to what turned out to be a cannabis farm was a Home of Multiple Occupation (HMO) with five residents and Mr Cafabona thought the extra fire precautions that were required there had contained the blaze and prevented it spreading futher.

On the other side three more properties were damaged - most remain uninhabitable nearly two months after the fire.

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Local resident Margaret Gardener said once it became clear what had happened local people wanted to thank the three heroes with a small presentation.

One of the area's county councillors, Debbie Richards, helped to organise the event a the nearby Norbridge Social Club which offered a room for the event.

Mrs Gardener said: "They helped to ensure everyone got out safe. It was a terrible fire and the fire engines were there all day damping down - the road was closed, They did well to get down it because there are cars on both sides."

No one was injured with paramedics assessing two people who did not need any further treatment.

A total of 18 fire appliances, including from as far away as Mildenhall, were called to help douse the flames and some remained on the scene until the end of the following day.

Kitchener Road homes

The houses damaged in May's fire are still waiting to be rebuilt. - Credit: Paul Geater

Since the fire the occupants of the HMO have been found other accommodation and the other residents have had to move to alternative accommodation.

Scaffolding has gone up outside one of the damaged homes and the house where the blaze started now has an estate agent's board outside.