October 23 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Firefighters are dealing with the aftermath of a thatch blaze which destroyed the roof of two properties.
Crews went out to Norwich Road, Barham, near Needham Market, yesterday afternoon at around 3.25pm after the fire was reported.
No-one was hurt in the fire but the residents of the two semi-detached homes - an elderly couple and a single man - are today trying to piece together their lives.
One of the residents, Edward Courtney, who was with his family, declined to comment as he surveyed the damage.
Ian Bowell, group commander for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said the cause of the fire was still unknown but ruled out it being suspicious.
“The fire started in the centre of one of the properties and spread to the other cottage which is attached,” he said.
“We got the first call from a passing policeman, who raised the alarm; when we arrived the fire was well alight.
“As with most thatch fires the thing to do is a double-pronged attack - try and salvage personal property but at the same time try and remove the thatch and extinguish it.”
The road is still closed this afternoon as the firefighters work on an aerial platform to assess the extent of the damage.
Mr Bowell added: “We had to close the road for two reasons - firstly we’re still working here so we cannot have traffic trying to pass, secondly, one of the chimneys is unstable, possibly both, so we cannot allow members of the public to come pass. I think we will be here for another couple of hours for the investigation to continue and there are still two hot spots so the road may still be closed for a while.”
He said as the building was listed discussions would have to be had between contractors and the planning authority Mid Suffolk District Council.
Phil Wade, associate director with Rose Building and Contractors, said it could take more than six months to restore the homes.
He said: “We are assessing the safety of the homes - the main thing is to get the chimney safe because we cannot open the road unless it’s safe. It will be a major job to restore it, probably a 30-week contract. The first thing to do is talk to conservation officers and see what we can do.”