Thatched home destroyed in blaze

MORE than 80 firefighters were unable to save a thatched home which was left in ruins by a fierce blaze this afternoon.

MORE than 80 firefighters were unable to save a thatched home which was left in ruins by a fierce blaze this afternoon.

Twelve fire crews were sent to the property in Tilbury Road, Ovington, south of Stoke-by-Clare - on the Suffolk/Essex border - just before 4pm.

But the fire was too far developed and it was quickly designated a “salvage operation” by emergency crews.

The first floor of the property slowly caved in as the fire raged.

An investigation is now under way into what caused the incident.

District fire commander for St Edmundsbury, Ali Moseley, said: “Unfortunately by the time we arrived the fire was incredibly well advanced and it was down to salvaging the contents as best we could.

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“The crew did a very good job of saving what we could of the first floor before it spread and became unsafe.

“We did manage to hold the fire back while we saved the contents but it was so deep in the thatch there was nothing we could do.”

It is thought the retired couple who live in the two-storey detached property were there at the time.

The scene was cordoned off and neighbours gathered to watch the crews fight the flames, with smoke visible for miles around.

Neighbour Jan Brook said: “They are such a lovely couple, it's such a shame. We are in shock as well, it is absolutely horrible.

“We knew there was nothing we could do.”

Her husband Len said: “The first we knew was our power went off. We then went out and saw the smoke, the fire engines were coming thick and fast and we could not even get down there.

“They are a very nice people and they've only just celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. They have been living there about 20 years. It's just very sad.”