Gallery: Biting winds hampered fire-fighting efforts during house blaze in Wickhambrook

Suffolk Fire Services work on putting out a fire at a bungalow on Malting End in Wickhambrook on Wed

Suffolk Fire Services work on putting out a fire at a bungalow on Malting End in Wickhambrook on Wednesday, 03 April. - Credit: Archant

A FAMILY were being comforted by neighbours last night after fleeing their burning home.

The two-storey detached house in Malting End, Wickhambrook was gutted after a fire started in the pitched, tiled roof.

More than 50 firefighters helped tackle the blaze after the alarm was raised at about 3.40pm yesterday. Their efforts were hampered by biting, swirling winds which blew the fire on to a nearby single-storey cottage, although it was dealt with before it could take hold. Three jets were used to protect oil storage tanks on the property.

According to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service area commander, Karl Rolfe, the timber-framed house was owned by an elderly woman who had family staying with her at the time.

Speaking at the scene, he said: “There were four people in the house but they didn’t notice the fire until it was well-developed.

“They all left unhurt and are being looked after by neighbours.

“We believe the fire started in the roof and specialist officers are investigating the cause.”

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Ten fire crews from Wickhambrook, Mildenhall, Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Ixworth fought the fire, their trucks blocking the narrow B1063 between Stradishall and Wickhambrook. Police were soon on the scene to close the road.

The fire was under control by 6.30pm but Mr Rolfe said he expected crews to be at the scene well into the evening.

He said: “The Wickhambrook crew were the first to answer the call and they could see the extent of the fire as they were travelling to the scene. They called for assistance immediately but unfortunately most of the house is badly damaged. The windy conditions blew the fire to an adjacent building but we managed to prevent any damage and have salvaged the contents from inside as a precaution.

“The wind has been a real challenge today – it keeps whipping up the debris and fuelling the fire. We’ll remain here damping down and carrying out thermal image sweeps.”