Family talk of the distress of losing their home in fire
PUBLISHED: 15:30 09 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 09 February 2019
A couple have said they are "really grateful" to firefighters for working tirelessly to salvage their possessions following a blaze at their thatched home in west Suffolk.
William Hardy, 34, was inside the house in High Rougham with his young son when passersby alerted him to the fire in the thatched roof today at about 10am.
The fire service sent eight appliances, along with the Multistar from Bury St Edmunds, a water bowser from Newmarket and support vehicles, to the detached house, which is owned by the Rougham Estate.
Group commander Ian Mallet said when the first crew arrived it was “a rapidly escalating job” due to the windy conditions, which led to all the thatch being on fire.
They battled the blaze and removed the thatch, while also retrieving as many of the occupants’ belongings as possible.
Mr Hardy’s partner Emily Dixon, 37, was out at the time of the blaze, as was her 10-year-old daughter, and rushed home as soon as she heard the distressing news.
Miss Dixon, a special teaching assistant at the Priory School in Bury St Edmunds, said she was “lost for words” to describe the efforts of the firefighters, but added it was “amazing” they were able to save some of their things.
“It’s not our house, we rent it, but it’s our home and we obviously love it. It’s surreal standing here,” she said.
What was particularly upsetting for her was the loss of special items of her daughter’s from when she was a baby, which they will “never get back”.
Mr Hardy also praised the fire service, telling how they went inside to retrieve a cuddly bunny for his three-year-old son.
“We are really grateful, and for those people who came by as well. I don’t know really what would have happened if they hadn’t gone past,” he said.
The family, who had no contents insurance at the property, are able to stay with relatives.
George Agnew, of the Rougham Estate, which owns about 60 properties, said his main concern was everybody was okay.
Mr Agnew, who came to the scene on learning of the fire, said: “We look after all the properties, and take particularly the historic ones very seriously. Our intention is to restore this place and, if at all possible, to re-thatch.”
Mr Mallet said it was “testing conditions” for the firefighters, adding the wind was driving the fire through the thatch.
“A large proportion of the occupants’ contents have been salvaged,” he said. “We will be determining the conclusion on the completion of the incident.”
A full fire investigation will be taking place, but the blaze is not believed to be suspicious.
The section of the road near the house was closed by the police and power to the street was turned off for a time by EDF Energy.
Mr Mallet expected the fire service to be on scene for a “significant” amount of time.