Diss: Thatch blaze leaves retired couple homeless

THE roofs of two thatched cottages have been totally devastated by fire.

A devastating fire at a thatched cottage in south Norfolk has left a retired couple homeless just two weeks before Christmas.

Up to 14 fire crews tackled the blaze at the 15th-century cottage at The Street in Garboldisham, near Diss, last night.

The couple – Pauline and Rodney Hinton – managed to escape unhurt with their two pet dogs.

They were able to save some of the precious possessions that they had collected since they moved into the building in 2003.

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However, some Christmas presents could be seen left behind on the drive in front of the house.

The couple, who are believed to be in their 60s, were too upset to talk last night.

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But their daughter-in-law, Karen Hinton, who has been staying with them in the cottage was able to speak about the tragedy.

She said her in-laws were both in the cottage yesterday afternoon.

“They said that the fire started in the loft. The electricity went off and that’s when they realised there was a problem,” she said.

“They phoned the fire brigade and were able to get their two dogs out of the house. They also saved some of their most precious possessions from the fire.

“But a lot of stuff they had to leave. The cottage dates back to the 15th century and I’m sure it’s a listed building.”

Mrs Hinton and her husband are staying with Pauline and Rodney Hinton until they can find a property to move into in the Stowmarket area.

She said it was too early to say what their next move was or whether they would be able to stay with relatives or friends until the cottage was habitable again.

One of their neighbours, Anne Sloane, said they could see smoke coming from the cottage and went outside to see if they could help.

All the properties nearby were left in total darkness as the electricity was cut off and they also had no water.

She said: “It’s horrible. It’s devastating what has happened to them, just before Christmas. It was a lovely house.”

The blaze, which started at about 6pm, also engulfed another thatched cottage next door and the whole village was cordoned off by police.

The young couple who live at the other thatched cottage were not in at the time. When they arrived, they found their house in flames and the whole street in chaos. They have been able to stay with relatives overnight.

A Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said it was too early to say what caused the blaze.

A spokesman said: “The roof of the thatched cottage was fully alight and firefighters had to work both inside and outside to contain the blaze. Salvage was in operation.”

Fire crews were sent to the blaze from Thetford, Diss, Wymondham, Attleborough, Watton and Fakenham. The water carrier from Hethersett and the aerial ladder platform from Earlham in Norwich were also needed.

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