Video & Gallery: Firefighters tackle major farmhouse fire

FIREFIGHTERS were last night tackling a major blaze at a thatched farmhouse in the heart of Suffolk.

Lizzie Parry

SIXTY firefighters were last night fighting to save an historic thatched farmhouse in the heart of rural Suffolk as fire ripped through its thatched roof.

Firefighters were working in relay teams to tackle the blaze, which was mostly contained in the roof of the historic building.

While some stripped thatch from the roof of the beautiful four to five bedroom farmhouse near Framlingham in a bid to stop the fire from spreading others formed a human chain to remove furniture and belongings from the smoke logged living quarters below.

Late last night, it was believed they had managed to save all the owner's property from the farmhouse, storing it in vans and cars nearby.

The owners, who were helping firefighters to salvage their property from the farmhouse, were last night too upset to talk about the fire.

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It is believed there were only two people in the house when the alarm was raised.

Firefighters were expected to be at the scene throughout the night and into tomorrow morning.

In all, sixteen firecrews were called to the 17th century detached timber framed farmhouse at Banham Close Farm, Bedfield, near Framlingham, at just after 9pm.

A quarter of the thatched roof was believed to be on fire when the first firefighters arrived at the scene.

Neighbour Anne Phillips was walking her dog at about 9pm when she saw the flames by the chimney in the roof of the farmhouse.

“I ran over to tell the owners I had seen the flames. They had already called the fire service. Their next door neighbour actually went out to help guide firecrews to the property.''

Gary Phillips, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said: “It's a very serious fire. The house was built in 1658 and the roof was re-thatched about five years ago. It looks like the fire was burning for a long time, possibly about two hours, before anybody realised.

“It was the neighbour who spotted the flames. This means the fire was well embedded by the time we arrived.

“It is very difficult fire fighting conditions. We have 12 firefighters in the property with breathing apparatus trying to prevent the fire from spreading any further and we have firefighters and the owners trying to salvage as much property as possible from inside.

“It is working quite well at the moment despite it being very difficult for the guys and girls to see what they are doing with all the smoke.''

Firecrews from Framlingham, Debenham, Stradbroke, Eye, Saxmundham, Needham Market, Leiston, Stowmarket, Holbrook, Elmswell, Halesworth and five from Princes Street and Colchester Road fire stations in Ipswich were called to the scene. A turntable ladder was among the vehicles at the scene.

A forward control unit and operational vehicles were also in attendance.