Cottage owner praised for fighting fire

THE owner of a thatched cottage was praised my firefighters yesterdayafter he helped prevent his house being lost to fire.Laurie Calkin, 73, was outside his property, called Gull Lane Cottage, in Thornham Magna, near Eye, when he noticed the thatched roof smouldering.

Anthony Bond

THE owner of a thatched cottage was praised my firefighters yesterdayafter he helped prevent his house being lost to fire.

Laurie Calkin, 73, was outside his property, called Gull Lane Cottage, in Thornham Magna, near Eye, when he noticed the thatched roof smouldering.

The retired policeman quickly grabbed his ladder and garden hose and started attempting to put the blaze out.

Mr Calkin, who moved into the cottage two-and-a-half years ago with his wife Joan, said: “We were outside and I saw that the top of the thatch was smouldering by the chimney. I just got up on the house and tried to get it under control. I called the fire brigade at the same time to be sure that everything was okay but it just went from bad to worse and the water did not seem to do a lot on the thatch.

“I did not have time to think and I was soaking to the skin as all the water was going over me. We did what anyone would do. I did not want to stand and watch it burn.”

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It is believed that the fire started following a spark from the chimney. Six fire engines from Norfolk and Suffolk attended the scene at about 2.10pm and the fire was quickly extinguished with no major damage to the building.

Andy Nunn, Assistant Divisional Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said that without Mr Calkin's intervention things could have been a lot worse. “He was able to keep the fire under control in the initial few minutes before we arrived,” he said. “Without his intervention there is a good chance that the whole of the thatch would have been lost.

“We would not advise anyone to tackle a fire themselves but on this occasion he was able to intervene and stop a lot more damage. The main thing is that we managed to stop damage to the inside of the building and the crews did a good job and got it extinguished very quickly.”

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