Home badly damaged by blaze

FIRE crews from Essex and Suffolk battled to save a luxury barn conversion when it went up in flames yesterday.An investigation was under way last night into the cause of the blaze in Rosemary Lane, Castle Hedingham.

By Roddy Ashworth

FIRE crews from Essex and Suffolk battled to save a luxury barn conversion when it went up in flames yesterday.

An investigation was under way last night into the cause of the blaze in Rosemary Lane, Castle Hedingham.

Emergency services were alerted to the fire shortly after 11.30am and two fire engines from Halstead and one from Clare were sent to the property, which measured approximately 60 metres by 30 metres.

On arriving at the scene, close to Rushley Green, they discovered that a large oil tank next to the property - containing 200 litres of heating oil - was also alight.

Sub-officer Peter Robinson, incident commander, said: “We could see the smoke from Halstead, so when we got the call we knew we definitely had an incident.

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“When we arrived, some small sheds, the oil tank, and about one third of the building was well alight.

“We did a risk assessment. Flames were seen coming out of the middle of the building from the other side, so we decided to attack the centre to try and save the other half.”

Further fire engines from Colchester, Brentwood and Sudbury were sent to the scene and a water relay of five hoses was set up from the nearest hydrant, which was approximately 500 metres away.

Crews concentrated on trying to save the building - known as Rosemary Farm Barn.

However, electricity workers were called in as flames and smoke were creeping close to power lines.

“There was a drastic water shortage. But with all the efforts of all the firefighters we managed to save about 65% of the building,” said Mr Robinson.

Nobody was in the building when it caught light and nobody was hurt in the blaze.

Derek Hopkins, water supply manager for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said there had been problems with getting water to the scene.

But he added: “It's what we expect in a very rural location such as this. In fact, we were better off here than in many places.”

Last night a fire spokesman said initial results of an investigation into the cause of the fire would probably be reached this morning.

The owner of the barn conversion declined to comment.

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