Television star's house fire heartache

A TELEVISION star has told how he was beaten back by smoke and flames as a huge fire ripped through his idyllic country home.Five fire crews managed to save Peter Purves' Grade II Georgian house at Sibton, near Peasenhall, after a severe blaze broke out yesterdayjust before 12.

A TELEVISION star has told how he was beaten back by smoke and flames as a huge fire ripped through his idyllic country home.

Five fire crews managed to save Peter Purves' Grade II Georgian house at Sibton, near Peasenhall, after a severe blaze broke out yesterday

just before 12.40pm. But the annexe where his mother-in-law lives was badly damaged.

The BBC television broadcaster and trainer, who became a household name in the BBC flagship children's programme Blue Peter, has lived in the house for four and a half years.


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As firefighters arrived at the scene, flames leapt through the upstairs bedroom where the blaze first took hold.

"I was in the kitchen over there cooking tonight's dinner. My mother-in-law told me her bedroom was on fire. We don't know why it started or where it started.

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"I ran in there and got beaten back by the heat and the smoke and said: 'Right, fire brigade, immediately'," he said.

He admitted feeling "very stupid" when confronted by such a big blaze. He closed doors to help contain it.

"It's the first time I have ever had a fire," he said.

Much of his mother-in-law's belongings were destroyed, and other parts of the house suffered smoke damage.

"It's very sad for her - what can you do?" said Mr Purves.

"She's absolutely devastated. She keeps most of her stuff in her rooms."

Firefighters arrived within minutes and fought to contain the blaze in the back annexe area. Although its roof was destroyed and the interiors below, the rest of the house escaped relatively unscathed.

The blaze was under control at 2.14pm although crews stayed on to damp down.

"Another few minutes and I think it would have been a severe problem. This house has massive attics," said Mr Purves.

"Luckily it's a big old house. It's Georgian - it's got very thick buttress walls."

Mr Purves desperately tried to gather his beloved dogs and get them to safety, sustaining slight cuts to his face in the process.

"We have got four dogs here and that was a big problem, making sure they were out - they are a bit confused," he said. "I was running around like mad."

He was full of praise for the quick actions of firefighters.

"They have saved my house. They have been fantastic," he said.

His mother-in-law was trying to come to terms with what had happened yesterday, while his wife, theatre actress Kathryn Evans, who was working in the West End yesterday, had yet to be told.

Ironically, the couple had just finished decorating the entire top floor of the house.

Crews did what they could to sift through the ashes of Mr Purves' mother-in-law's belongings and salvaged some jewellery.

Assistant Divisional Officer John Tiffen,of Suffolk Fire Service said it was a "severe" fire which started in the first floor bedroom of the annexe, but it was unclear yet how it had started. The cause was under investigation.

Firefighters from Saxmundham, Halesworth, Leiston, Southwold and Beccles used breathing apparatus as they worked to contain the blaze.

In the late afternoon, they were still making sure no pockets of fire were left behind the plaster and damping down.

"There was a lot of work to knock it down quickly because what we did not want it to do was to spread into the rest of the house," said Mr Tiffen.

As well as being part of the original team of Blue Peter Mr Purves has also been an actor a director and ran his own television and video production company.

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