Bonfire sparks fierce farmhouse blaze

AN investigation was launched last night after a garden bonfire raged out of control, wrecking a stunning 15th century farmhouse in a devastating blaze.

AN investigation was launched last night after a garden bonfire raged out of control, wrecking a stunning 15th century farmhouse in a devastating blaze.

Scores of firefighters from Essex and Suffolk battled the blaze at Brook Farm in Boxted, between Colchester and Sudbury, as fire ripped through the roof and first floor of the remote property.

Fire investigators said the owners were fortunate to escape serious injury after the bonfire set light to a shed - causing two gas cylinders to explode and the flames to rapidly spread through the historic property.

And they have now issued a warning about the dangers of bonfires as the devastated owners of the farmhouse, in Wet Lane, pick up the pieces after being left homeless by yesterday afternoon's fire.


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Justin Johnston, divisional officer for the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The bonfire very quickly got hold of a shed containing gas cylinders and an oil central heating storage.

“It spread to the main property very quickly and there was a rapid fire development, despite the owner attempting to put the fire out with a garden hose.

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“Crews did a very good job in limiting the spread of the fire and there could have been even more serious consequences, as a result of the fire or the cylinders exploding.

“We will be conducting a full investigation and it is too early to say for definite how it started - but the role of the bonfire will play a major part in our investigation.”

Fire crews from Nayland, Colchester, Manningtree and Hadleigh tackled the fire and stayed on scene last night, dampening down any remaining hot spots on the property.

Crews were initially called to a “bonfire out of control” at about 12.15pm but the fire soon spread to the shed and main house.

Fire chiefs estimated that most of the roof and more than half of the first floor had been destroyed.

Homeowner Anthony Corin said: “I got a hose into the area but the heat was too much. My wife rung the fire brigade after noticing the shed was on fire.”

The Environmental Agency was also called to the scene to deal with a large amount of heating oil which was spilled as a result of the blaze.

Speaking after the incident, a fire service spokesman said: “We would always warn about the potential dangers of bonfires and for people to ensure they are not started too close to properties.

“We would also like to use this incident to highlight the importance of smoke alarms. If this fire had started at night, and there had been no alarms, this could have been even more serious.”

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