Weeting: Row of thatched homes seriously damaged by fire

A ROW of thatched cottages has been seriously damaged by a serious fire.

More than 50 firefighters have been tackling the blaze which started at around 5pm in Weeting, near Brandon.

Fire crews worked quickly to contain the fire to three of the 10 cottages and were due on scene overnight to tackle the flames.

It was the second time in four years that The Row, which is reputed to be the longest stretch of continuous thatched housing in the country, has been hit by fire.

On Easter Sunday in 2007, three of the cottages at the other end were destroyed by a fire which broke out just weeks after the next two along were damaged in another blaze.

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It is not yet known what caused the fire but fire chiefs warned for people to take extra care at thatched properties.

Debbie MacGregor, who lives in one of the cottages which was involved in the fire, said she was indoors watching television when her neighbours alerted her to the blaze.

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“It was a case of get out and leave everything,” said Ms MacGregor who has lived in The Row for two years. “It was definitely a shock at first. I’ve always wanted to live under thatch. It’s so romantic, isn’t it? I don’t know how long it will be before I can go move back in. It’s so sad. They are such idyllic and pretty cottages.”

Sue Nairn, 60, who lives nearby, said: “We’ve lived here nearly 33 years and we’ve seen at least four if not five fires there. It’s so devastating. “The Row is an iconic part of Weeting. It’s such a shame and three families have been left temporarily homeless.”

Firefighters from Brandon, Methwold, Dereham, Thetford, Swaffham, Watton, Downham Market, Wymondham and East Harling were sent to the scene together with the water carried from Newmarket and the turn table from Bury St Edmunds.

Rob Moyney, incident commander, said: “It was the middle cottage which was affected by fire. With thatched roofs you get rapid fire spread. Our crews have done well to create a fire break and protect the new end.

“Thatched roofs are no more dangerous than normal roofs. The message is to maintain your heating, ensure you have got smoke alarms in your house and take care with thatch.”

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