Earl Soham: Praise for firefighters who “risked their lives” to salvage possessions

The Old Hall Farm, Earl Soham, which was destroyed in the blaze.

The Old Hall Farm, Earl Soham, which was destroyed in the blaze.

THE OWNER of a country house devastated by a blaze has spoken of her admiration for fire crews who “risked their lives” to save valuable items from her historic home.

Jeannette van der Post was alerted to the fire at around 9.45pm on Saturday evening after a friend driving by her 16th Century, Grade II-listed cottage on Church Lane, Earl Soham, saw sparks coming from the thatched roof.

Ms van der Post quickly woke her sleeping sons, who are 10 and 12 years old, and fled from her home while her friend called for help.

She said: “The first fire crew from Framlingham were here within five minutes but the roof was well alight by then. Soon, other engines arrived and we were told to sit in one. It was pandemonium, an inferno, but they went in and got almost all of our possessions out including the piano, which is the most valuable thing we own.

“I don’t know how they did it but I was absolutely impressed. They risked their lives – even going upstairs to grab things.”

Ms van der Post, an archeologist, moved to the £750,000 five-bedroom house three years ago.

She added: “The house is well-known in the area because it is so historic. I have asked experts to visit the building and they have told me some of the timbers date back to the 14th Century.

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“You never really own a house like this – you just look after it and pass it on. It’s like a nightmare. It is totally destroyed and I can’t believe it has happened while I was here.”

Eight crews from across the county fought the fire, which tore across the attic space and the first floor, and left the ground floor badly damaged. By 10.46pm firefighters were forced to halt their salvage operation, fearing the building would collapse.

Crews worked through the night to dampen down hotspots and were relieved by crews from Elmswell and Aldeburgh who took over yesterday morning.

The fire is the latest in a series of blazes that have devastated thatched homes across Suffolk. As yet, the cause of this fire is not known.

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