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Pensioner hurt after cottage blaze

PUBLISHED: 09:24 22 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:47 09 March 2010

The scene of the fire

The scene of the fire

A PENSIONER was taken to hospital after her thatched cottage became engulfed in flames and threatened to destroy neighbouring properties.

A pensioner was taken to hospital

A PENSIONER was taken to hospital after her thatched cottage became engulfed in flames and threatened to destroy neighbouring properties.

More than 50 firefighters from across three counties battled the blaze at Withersfield, near Haverhill, for four hours yesterday morning.

A woman, believed to be in her 80s and the only resident of the property, was taken to hospital after she managed to escape from the early stages of the fire.

Fire crews were unable to save the village home which had already destroyed most of the thatched roof by the time they arrived at 4am.

But their actions were praised by senior officers for managing to ensure the massive fire did not spread to neighbouring properties.

Assistant Divisional Officer Mark Steggall said: “We were originally called to what was described as a kitchen fire, but by the time the first crews arrived the fire had spread to the thatched roof.

“We had ten crews here at one stage but we struggled with the amount of water required to put out a thatch fire. We had no chance of ever saving the roof so the priority for the crews was obviously making sure the female resident was alright and salvaging what they could from the property.”

Two crews from Haverhill were initially called to the fire but due to the severity of it, they were quickly joined by crews from Bury St Edmunds - including the town's turntable ladder - Wickhambrook, Clare, Long Melford and Sudbury as well as Linton, in Cambridgeshire, and Saffron Walden and Sible Hedingham in Essex.

Although the initial call was to a kitchen fire, investigators were yesterday at the scene in an attempt to uncover exactly how the blaze started.


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