Row of thatched cottages devastated by Easter fire

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THREE thatched cottages were left gutted following a blaze which took 10 fire crews more than 20 hours to extinguish.

Emergency services were called to the fire at The Row, in Weeting, at 5pm on Easter Sunday.

The fire is thought to have started in the middle of the three cottages and the investigation has concluded that the most likely cause was a spark from the chimney on to the thatch.

Three families have been left homeless after the fire gutted their homes.

But quick-thinking fire fighters have been praised for managing to put in fire breaks and contain the blaze to the three cottages at one end, saving the other seven homes in the row.

The picturesque cottages are believed to be the longest stretch of thatched cottages in the country.

Several of the cottages at the other end of the row were destroyed in a similar fire which broke out on Easter Sunday (April 7) four years ago. There have been four fires at the row of cottages within the last 15 years.

Alan Jones, who lives in one of the cottages which was saved from the fire, said he was relieved that the firefighters managed to stop it from spreading.

His house was burnt down by the 2007 fire and he said it was time that something was done to make the row of houses safer. He believes all of the houses should be modernised and run on oil, but currently only his home is.

“I do hope this will be the end of these fires. We have no objections to modernisation,” he said.

Rob Moyney, Norfolk Fire Service incident commander, said that no-one was hurt on Sunday.

But he reminded people of the dangers of house fires.

“The message is to maintain all your heating, ensure you have got smoke alarms in the house and take care,” he said.

A spokesman from Norfolk Fire Service said that firefighters were on scene until Monday lunch time damping down and raking through the thatch. He added that the families managed to salvage a few belongings from the houses.

Firefighters from Brandon, Thetford, Methwold, East Harling, Downham Market, Wymondham, Watton and Swaffham attended the blaze, with support from a Bury St Edmunds turntable, Newmarket water carrier and operational support unit from Dereham.

The Red Cross emergency unit was also on scene to provide support and advice to those from the cottages. The bowling club was opened to offer refuge to families affected by the fire.