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Ardleigh cottage fire: Investigation into cause begins

PUBLISHED: 15:54 21 January 2019

The Blue Barns Cottage, in Harts Lane in Ardleigh, was gutted by the fire - with Essex firefighters now investigating what caused it Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

The Blue Barns Cottage, in Harts Lane in Ardleigh, was gutted by the fire - with Essex firefighters now investigating what caused it Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

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Firefighters are investigating the cause of a devastating fire at a 17th century cottage in Ardleigh, near Colchester after Essex fire crews battled the blaze through the night.

Firefighters are putting out flames at a 400-year-old cottage in Ardleigh, Essex Picture: JAKE FOXFORDFirefighters are putting out flames at a 400-year-old cottage in Ardleigh, Essex Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

The blaze set the thatched roof completely alight at Blue Barns Cottage in Ardleigh, near Colchester, and at its height was battled by 12 crews.

They worked through the night in freezing temperatures to tackle the fire at the house in Harts Lane, which broke out at around 4.50pm on Sunday.

Hotspots within the fire caused flames to burst through the thatched roof as it was being taken down – with emergency workers just inches away from the blaze as they attempted to extinguish it.

At 11.30pm the firefighters had removed around 90% of the thatch while crews continued to dampen down burning material and the surrounding areas.

The fire has destroyed a 400-year-old cottage in Ardleigh, near Colchester, less than 100m from the A12 Picture: JAKE FOXFORDThe fire has destroyed a 400-year-old cottage in Ardleigh, near Colchester, less than 100m from the A12 Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

The crews pumped water and forked out burning thatch to control the fire before relief firefighters were able to completely extinguish it.

The fire was finally put out completely by 6.30am.

Two fire crews remained at the scene into Monday to monitor the wreckage while an investigation into the cause of the fire got underway.

Speaking at the scene on Sunday night, incident commander Lee Lucas of Essex fire service said: “The only way to fight this fire was to pitch ladders up to the roof to remove the thatch – by the time we had done that it had broken through.

Crews are expected to remain at the scene in Harts Lane, Ardleigh, overnight Picture: JAKE FOXFORDCrews are expected to remain at the scene in Harts Lane, Ardleigh, overnight Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

“All the firefighters are using breathing apparatus and working at height rigs to stay safe in their teams.

“We used a very traditional form of firefighting – it’s our crews using forks to pull the thatch down, soaking it and extinguishing it.

“The dangers we have at this incident are the lack of light and cold conditions though the night so to mitigate this we’re using the thatch to line the road and stop the ice forming.”

The owners of the property have declined to comment. Fire chiefs said no-one was hurt in the blaze.

Station manager Martyn Hare added: “We had crews inside the building, salvaging historical contents and protecting the property from further damage.

“Often thatch fires can take a lot of manpower to tackle and our firefighters did a brilliant job in difficult conditions.”


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