Residents tell of battle with flames

A MAD dash for the dog and fleeing the house in mismatched footwear - that's how events unfolded for two pensioners as a fire threatened their Ipswich homes.

A MAD dash for the dog and fleeing the house in mismatched footwear - that's how events unfolded for two pensioners as a fire threatened their Ipswich homes.

The two friends today recalled the moments the flames threw hot stones onto their houses in Felixstowe Road after the blaze broke out at around 2.25pm on Tuesday.

The fire, which started on a railway embankment near the St Augustine's roundabout, spread to the edge of their back gardens, scorching trees, fences and hedgerows.

Rosemary Benneworth, of Felixstowe Road, said: “The flames leapt right across the track with the wind. The smoke was dense and it choked you very quickly.

“I have never seen a fire quite so fierce. I thought it was time me and my little dog departed from here. I thought 'blow to my handbag' and picked him up instead.”

She took Alfie, a Yorkshire Terrier, to her sister's house two doors down, where she were met by her next-door neighbour and friend Peggy Woods.

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In the commotion, Mrs Woods, 84, had dashed out of her house wearing one slipper and one shoe - but later seemed blas� about the fire.

Mrs Woods, who has lived in her house for 46 years, said: “I am used to it. It is always happening, but it's the first time the hedge has fire. I have great faith in the fire service. I knew they would be here.”

Mrs Benneworth, who is in her 70s, added: “I did get a bit fearful because it was so close to the house. I thought 'we are insured - if it happens, it happens.'”

The blaze set fire to around 400m of undergrowth, spreading to land near Sainsbury's in Warren Heath.

Five crews from the town battled for more than an hour to bring the blaze under control before it could endanger residents.

Engineers from Network Rail were yesterday assessing the damage at the scene.

Mrs Benneworth, who has four children and four grandchildren, said: “Thankfully no-one was hurt and there was no major damage.”

Were you affected by the fire? 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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