Thatched home destroyed by fire

A FAMILY watched helplessly as their cottage was destroyed by a fire which tore through its thatched roof.Laraine Ford was at her home in Boxted, near Colchester, yesterday when her neighbour alerted her to smoke billowing from the roof.

By Annie Davidson

A FAMILY watched helplessly as their cottage was destroyed by a fire which tore through its thatched roof.

Laraine Ford was at her home in Boxted, near Colchester, yesterday when her neighbour alerted her to smoke billowing from the roof.

Mrs Ford immediately dialled 999 but she and her former firefighter husband, Douglas, could only watch helplessly as the fire took hold of picturesque Peartree Cottage.


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As firefighters worked to remove the burning thatch and reduce the flames, Mrs Ford comforted her weeping daughter, Carly.

“I had a fire lit so I assume it was a spark from the chimney which started it,” she said.

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“My neighbour came and knocked and said the house was on fire. I came out and it was smoking. I went straight back in and phoned the fire brigade.

“We have been able to move some things from the ground floor into the extension and we have saved a fair amount of stuff. But everything upstairs will be ruined.”

Mrs Ford managed to save her cat, Misty, from the house but was scratched on the face as she tried to take the animal to safety at her neighbour's home.

She was also concerned there had been problems obtaining water from hydrants to fight the blaze, although this was denied by the fire service.

Crews were called to the cottage in Ellis Road at 2.52pm yesterday.

At the height of the blaze there were two fire crews from Colchester, one from Wivenhoe, one from Manningtree, one from Clacton, the aerial ladder platform from Colchester and crews from Hadleigh and Nayland in Suffolk.

Speaking at the scene, assistant divisional officer Danny Fearn, said: “The roof of the property is well alight and four firefighters in breathing apparatus are stripping the thatch off the roof to stop the spread of the fire.

“The fire has spread to the first floor and other crew members are attempting to salvage as much from the cottage as possible, but it is important to bear in mind that it is difficult for them to get in and salvage furniture from a property where the roof is on fire.

“Everyone is working really hard and it is thanks to their professionalism and dedication that the fire has not spread to the ground floor of the cottage.

“This fire is not thought to be deliberate.”

A spokesman from Essex County Fire and Rescue said there was no record of any problem with obtaining water at the scene of the blaze.

A spokeswoman for Anglian Water said: “We have not been notified by the fire service that there is any problem with the hydrant.

“It is a small main because it is a rural main and the pressure is not as great as in a town.

“The pressure is in order and is double the maximum amount for pressure for a main of that size.”

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