‘Fantastic house’ near Stowupland suffers major damage during overnight blaze tackled by around 60 firefighters

A house in Saxham Street near Stowupland caught fire on Wednesday evening

A house in Saxham Street near Stowupland caught fire on Wednesday evening - Credit: Su Anderson

The owner of a “fantastic house” ravaged by an overnight blaze has described the “horrible” experience of helplessly watching his property burn.

Around 60 firefighters fought to control the flames at Duncan Whitney-Groom’s converted barn in Saxham Street near Stowupland on Wednesday night, some coming from as far away as London.

Mr Whitney-Groom, 42, said he first noticed something was wrong at 7.30pm.

“I went upstairs to look out of the window and saw flames coming out of the chimney,” he said this afternoon as fire crews continued to make the building’s roof secure.

“I thought initially it was a chimney fire so I went outside and got our hosepipe and tried to douse it but nothing happened because it was so windy.

“The smoke detectors didn’t go off because it was in the void between the ceiling and tiles and there was no smoke in the house.”

The events management company owner tackled the blaze for around 10 minutes until the fire service arrived.

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His partner Lee Cavell, also 42, returned home from work in London and “as he was driving along the road he could see the house on fire”, Mr Whitney-Groom added.

“The pair, who only moved into the property last March, stood and watched helplessly until 1am before staying the rest of the night at a neighbour’s.

Yesterday Mr Whitney-Groom started the process of trying to move on from the night’s events.

Around two-thirds of the house was damaged by the flames with the rest of the property suffering damage from both the water used to try to control them, and the smoke.

“We are waiting for the insurance company to come out and assess the damage,” Mr Whitney-Groom added.

“There’s so much to think about and organise, we don’t know where to start really.

“It was such a fantastic house, it’s pretty awful. You don’t realise it can have this effect so quickly.”

Mr Whitney-Groom, who had celebrated his birthday at the weekend, praised the firefighters for their efforts tackling the blaze.

“They did everything they could but it was a difficult situation with the wind.

“They stayed all night. They did an absolutely amazing job. There was so many of them here tackling it from every angle.

“They got things out we could maybe save, they couldn’t have done more.”