Village rallies round as fire guts cottage

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RESIDENTS in a close-knit community have spent this week in shock after a ferocious fire devastated a picture-perfect home.

Ten fire engines and around 80 firefighters were called to the scene, in Brettenham Road, Hitcham, on Sunday night.

Crews attended from Stowmarket, Needham Market, Hadleigh, Elmswell, Bury St Edmunds, Ixworth, Sudbury, Nayland, Princes Street and Haverhill.

The homeowners were in when the fire started. They spotted smoke coming from the thatched roof when they stepped outside at around 11pm to take in their pet cat in for the night.

Group commander Dave Pedersen said the roof had been completely alight and the fire had spread to all of the bedrooms by the time crews arrived.

He said: “The crews worked tirelessly but the task was primarily to salvage the people’s possessions – it was rescue what we could and then tackle the fire.”

THATCHED COTTAGE CAUGHT FIRE IN THE VILLAGE OF HITCHAM  LATE AT NIGHT ON SUNDAY THE 25TH MARCH.

THATCHED COTTAGE CAUGHT FIRE IN THE VILLAGE OF HITCHAM LATE AT NIGHT ON SUNDAY THE 25TH MARCH.

One neighbour, who called the property her ‘dream house’, said: “You just can’t imagine something like that, all that heartache it’s going to cause, it’s very distressing.”

On Monday, crews from Ipswich East, Long Melford and Newmarket worked to clear thatch from the first floor and tackled any hot spots still at the house.

Mr Pedersen praised Hitcham residents on Monday, saying: “Villagers all rallied around yesterday. They put the owners up for the night and they’ve all turned up again today to help out.”

“It appears to be a tragic accident but we will undertake a full fire investigation,” he added.

Anyone wanting advice on how to keep their thatch free from fire should call 01473 260588.