Suffolk: Thatched property owners should have their chimneys swept again - fire service advice

The property the morning after the fire.

The property the morning after the fire. - Credit: Archant

THE FIRE service is advising the owners of thatched homes to have their chimneys swept after a number of blazes in recent weeks.

Firefighters tackled a thatched house fire in Thurston.

Firefighters tackled a thatched house fire in Thurston. - Credit: Archant

Last night about 60 firefighters from across Suffolk tackled a blaze at a thatched property in Thurston.

Phil Embury, assistant chief fire officer for Suffolk County Council, said there had been four thatched fires in the past three weeks, including at Nedging Tye, near Bildeston, and Poy Street Green, near Rattlesden.

He said that was an “unusually high number,” putting it down to a long, cold winter.

He said the fire service would investigate the cause of the fire in Thurston, but added it is not believed to be suspicious.

Mr Embury said: “The majority of thatch fires are caused by wood burners or open fires. The heat transfers through the flue or chimney into the thatch, particularly this time of year - we are late in the winter.

“People have been burning wood etc on their fires all through the winter and there will be a build up of sooty deposits and tar in the flue and that will sometimes catch fire and add to the heat build-up and possible heat transfer into the thatch.

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“We always suggest to people you should have your chimney swept at least twice a year, but this has been a long burning season this year so I would suggest people would want to have their chimney swept again.”

He said if people had any concerns they should use a qualified chimney sweep, someone who belongs to one of the recognised chimney sweep associations.

He said woodburners are particularly susceptible as they burn at very high temperatures.

A woodburning stove was in use at the time at the thatched home in Poy Street Green which was destroyed by fire on March 14.

Mr Embury said the owner of the Thurston home had been in the property at the time and alerted the fire service at about 8.50pm. There were about 10 pumping appliances, an aerial appliance and a support appliance with a command and control vehicle.

Mr Embury said fighting a thatch fire was a “long difficult process” as the netting had to be removed and then the thatch.

Part of the roof collapsed into the first floor, but he said crews managed to save both gable ends.

He said: “The crews worked fantastically hard and were able to limit the damage and the fire spread.”

He added no-one was hurt in the fire and crews had worked hard to remove furniture and possessions.

Crews were there this morning checking the property over and damping down.

George Hurst, 72, of School Road, Thurston, said the damage to the home was a “real shame”.

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