Reports by Tom Potter, Mariam Ghaemi and Richard Wood
Monday, February 25, 2013
A RESTORED six-bedroom farmhouse that once stood as the centrepiece of a sweeping Suffolk estate has been all but destroyed by fire.
Little remains of the principle property at the Manor House Farm Estate, in Bawdsey, after fire wiped out the roof and first floor before being tamed.
Owner Jonathan Simper had to watch as flames swallowed up his grandparents’ former home, which overlooked miles of rolling countryside and was the location for his own wedding.
Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire, which broke out in the early hours of Saturday morning and caused most of the roof to collapse.
Fire crews from Orford and Ipswich East were the first to arrive at the scene just before 7am. They instantly called for help from Woodbridge, Saxmundham, Leiston and Princes Street station, in Ipswich.
Gusty winds made it tricky for firefighters to ensure neighbouring properties remained protected from the spread of flames – but they were able to bring the flames under control by 9.20am by pumping water directly from a nearby swimming pool.
Group commander Ian Bowell said: “The fire caused extensive damage. High winds never help. Flames were blowing across from this large property towards smaller surrounding buildings.”
The property had been up for sale and was empty of furniture when the fire broke out. Owner Jonathan Simper arrived to find his grandparents’ former home caving in under the blaze. Mr Simper, who is from nearby Ramsholt but has an office at Manor House Farm, said he was alerted to the blaze by a resident of the estate. “The roof was still there when he rang but it had gone by the time I arrived,” he added.
“My grandfather had a dairy farm and this was his main home. We restored it following his death in 2006 and rented it out before putting it on the market.
“I can’t imagine what would have happened if my grandparents were still living there. They would never have made it out.”
In Saint South Elmham, a thatched house caught alight on Friday night. Fire investigators were at the property in Mill Road throughout the weekend.
And in Nedging Tye neighbours provided refreshments for hard-working crews battling a blaze at a Clematis Cottage.