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Suffolk: Two thatched cottages hit by fire - including one that was damaged only three years ago

07:00 17 March 2014

Investigations will continue today into the cause of fires at two thatched homes in west Suffolk - including one which was damaged for the second time in three years.

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The blazes, separate incidents which came on one of the warmest weekends of the year so far, left one of the homes in ruins after the roof collapsed.

In the first blaze, more than 20 firefighters were called to the 16th Century property in Great Ashfield near Walsham-le-Willows on Saturday morning after a blaze broke out in the chimney and quickly spread to the surrounding thatch.

The cottage in Long Thurlow Road – part of which dates back to 1570 – was also hit by a similar blaze at the opposite end of the roof in August 2011.

On that occasion, the fire was believed to have been started by a spark from an electrical power tool.

This time, the property’s owner David Morgan said he had no idea his home was on fire until a passer-by knocked on his door just after 8.30am and alerted him to the flames.

Mr Morgan said: “I had been away on business and had just got back so I lit the woodburning stove.

“I had just sat down to have breakfast when a couple who were walking their dogs past the house noticed the flames.

“It was literally only 20 minutes after I lit the stove but the roof was already well alight.

“I climbed up onto the roof with a hose pipe and sat on the ridge trying to keep the flames at bay until the fire service arrived.”

It took crews an hour-and-a-half to get the fire under control.

They believe the flue could be touching the brickwork inside the fireplace and that the flames spread through a crack in the corner of the chimney stack, although this is yet to be confirmed by an engineer.

Mr Morgan added: “It’s such a lovely house and I have only just had some work done on it – it does seem like really rotten luck for it be hit twice by fire.

“Last time it was started by a spark and it took us ages to tidy it all up.”

Meanwhile, crews from Sudbury, Woodbridge, Hadleigh, Colchester and Halstead were alerted just before 1pm yesterday to a fire in Crawley Road, Wissington, near Nayland.

It is believed the owner of the property, in his 80s, has lived at the home most of his life.

He had climbed a ladder and, with neighbours, tried to put out the flames before fire crews arrived.

However, the fire was serious and while crews had it under control just before 4pm, they were expected to remain there overnight.

Watch Commander Darren Cooper, of Princes St Blue Watch, said: “We arrived to find the thatched roof fully involved in fire. The roof has been lost and has collapsed inside the building.”

They are still investigating the cause.

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