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Historic 17th century cottage blaze started accidentally, say firefighters

PUBLISHED: 11:54 23 January 2019

The Blue Barns Cottage, in Harts Lane in Ardleigh, was gutted by the fire  Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

The Blue Barns Cottage, in Harts Lane in Ardleigh, was gutted by the fire Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

Archant

A devastating fire at a 400-year-old thatched cottage near the A12 started by accident, according to Essex Fire and Rescue.

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

Blue Barns Cottage, in Ardleigh, near Colchester, was the scene of a huge fire on January 20, with the thatched roof catching “100% alight”.

At its height the blaze was battled by 12 crews, forking out burning thatch while hot-spots flared up inside the building, causing bursts of flames just inches away from emergency workers.

The following day the building was extinguished, but the extensive damage throughout the property has led firefighters to conclude that the fire started accidentally.

The fire broke out at around 4.50pm on Sunday, January 20.

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

By 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 was finally put out completely by 6.30am, with two fire crews remaining at the scene on Monday to monitor the wreckage while the investigation took place.

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.

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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