Historic pub saved from blaze

A RELIEVED landlady last night paid tribute to the swift actions of firefighters after her 17th Century pub was “10 minutes away” from being engulfed by flames.

A RELIEVED landlady last night paid tribute to the swift actions of firefighters after her 17th Century pub was “10 minutes away” from being engulfed by flames.

Determined crew managed to thwart the blaze at the renowned Red Lion pub in Icklingham, near Mildenhall, which threatened to rip through the building's thatched roof as staff were preparing for more than 60 people for Easter Sunday lunch.

As the clean-up operation began, landlady Elizabeth Mason praised the work of 40 firefighters from across west Suffolk after they saved more than half of the roof.

She said: “I have nothing but praise for the firefighters, especially how quickly they got here. I firmly believe if it had been just 10 minutes longer, the whole roof would have gone.


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“It is still really upsetting but I do feel relieved that the damage wasn't far worse. We had to cancel all the lunch-time meals but we are hoping to have the pub re-opened very quickly.”

Fire chiefs last night launched an investigation into the blaze, which was believed to have begun in the chimney at about 11.15am.

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Ms Mason added: “We just lit the fire as usual when we heard a fan making a whirring noise. We switched the fan off and the next thing we knew there was smoke pouring from the chimney - it was quite frightening.”

Crews from Mildenhall. Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Haverhill were called to the scene while Suffolk Fire Service's threatened turntable ladder was also deployed.

Sub officer Jim Khan said: “When we first arrived, flames were coming out of the chimney and the roof was already well alight.

“We immediately applied water and managed to prevent the fire from spreading - which was a massive concern. It is quite rare to stop a thatched roof fire and I have to praise the work of the firefighters.

“We had to clear away a lot of the thatch to make sure there were no hidden flames and make the area safe again.

James Marston, who lives next door to the pub, said: “I heard some noise and came rushing out to see about six fire engines.

“I was shocked when I saw the state of the roof - the pub is an integral part of Icklingham village life.

“The whole village will be very sad for the landlady, it is an awful thing to happen to anyone, especially on one of their busiest days.”

The Greene King-owned pub was last year saved by regulars who formed a company to safeguard its future after it was closed for six weeks while new licensees were found.

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