Flames tear through thatched cottage

THE residents of a tiny Suffolk village have rallied round to help the victims of a fire which devastated a period thatched cottage.As residents of the picturesque village of Langham, near Ixworth settled to down to a quiet summer's evening on Saturday, flames were spotted ripping through the thatch of Brambles Cottage.

THE residents of a tiny Suffolk village have rallied round to help the victims of a fire which devastated a period thatched cottage.

As residents of the picturesque village of Langham, near Ixworth settled to down to a quiet summer's evening on Saturday, flames were spotted ripping through the thatch of Brambles Cottage.

Its owners, Jerry and Tracy Tarbuck, were thought to have been sitting down to dinner with friends at around 7.45pm, oblivious to the blaze which was taking hold above their heads.

A neighbour raised the alarm and all those inside the house were safely evacuated. Fire crews from across Suffolk and some from Norfolk were soon on the scene, but thatch was soon well alight and the flames could be seen across the surrounding countryside as darkness fell.

The quiet lane through the village was soon brought to a standstill as crews from Ixworth, Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Elmswell, East Harling and Needham Market worked together to try and contain the fire and salvage some of the couple's furniture.

As they did so many of the village's small population came out to assist in moving furniture and belongings, which had been rescued by the firefighters.

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Others prepared refreshments for the team of around 50 fire crew who attended the blaze, offering help and support to the emotional couple.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, told the EADT: "It's terrible, I'm glad they're alright, but they have put so much effort into doing up that house over the last four years, they have really transformed and now to see it like this must be devastating.

"This is a very close knit community and everyone feels for them, we're just trying to help in any way we can, but it's the least we can do."

The fire was soon contained, but much of the upper floor of the house, which is thought to date from the mid 17th Century, was badly damaged, and the thatch was successfully removed by fire teams to stop the fire re-igniting and spreading.

Speaking from the scene of the fire Assistant Divisional Officer Pat Dacey said: "Thatch fires are very labour intensive and while the fire was quickly under control, it needs to be monitored and crew will be here well into the night to monitor the situation and make sure everything is safe.

"Eight of the nine crews here are retained fire crews, which illustrates the importance of the service. There are a number of vacancies at stations throughout the county and we need people to come forward and help situations like this from becoming far more serious."

The cause of the fire has not yet been established and Mr and Mrs Tarbuck declined to comment on their ordeal.

Anyone who is interested in joining a retained fire crew should contact ADO Dacey on 01473 588888.

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