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Shoppers return to find home ablaze

PUBLISHED: 14:16 01 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 March 2010

A SHOCKED family are recovering today after returning from an afternoon shopping trip to find their home ablaze.

The couple and their two daughters had been out when the fire broke out - and turned into their street to see firefighters tackling the flames.

A SHOCKED family are recovering today after returning from an afternoon shopping trip to find their home ablaze.

The couple and their two daughters had been out when the fire broke out - and turned into their street to see firefighters tackling the flames.

Neighbours - who alerted the fire service after seeing smoke pouring from the property in Trimley St Mary - said the family were devastated by the blaze, which seemed to take hold in minutes and wrecked their bungalow.

The couple, identified by neighbours as Brian and Lisa Cousins, were given help by the Red Cross and stayed last night in a Felixstowe hotel because the damage to their home was so bad.

"My husband was on the phone when he saw smoke coming from next door and asked me to go and have a look," said a neighbour, who asked not to be named.

"I went out and there was smoke pouring out of the front and back windows and I just ran back inside and told my husband to get off the phone and call the fire service immediately, which he did.

"The fire crews arrived within five minutes. The people were out at the time shopping, but I called a couple of places I thought they might be just in case we could find them.

"It was a scary experience because the property was well alight so quickly. It was a real shock and just dreadful.

"When they got back they were very upset and distressed, it was searing. They kept saying that if only they hadn't gone out, it wouldn't have happened, that they could have done something. The victim support people though were really good and helped them find accommodation."

Another neighbour described the couple, who have daughters aged 19 and ten, as "very nice, quiet people" and said people would rally round to help.

The fire is understood to have started in a bedroom and is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.

Two fire crews from Felixstowe attended the incident at 2pm and officers wearing breathing apparatus used two hosereel jets and put the flames out within minutes. They then spent time at the property making sure it was safe.

The bedroom where the fire started was severely damaged and the rest of the detached bungalow was badly smoke damaged.

It was the first incident attended by the Suffolk branch of the British Red Cross fire victim support unit.

The unit, which is staffed by trained volunteers, offers moral and practical support.

Graham Saward, fire support co-ordinator, said: "The support unit wasn't supposed to run today but we have used it.

"In this incident when we arrived one person was in the car and another was in the garage. We offered somewhere warm to sit and the use of a mobile phone."

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