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‘20 foot flames blowing across the road’ – Thatched cottage blaze nearly spread to neighbours

PUBLISHED: 13:13 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:57 02 January 2020

Neighbours said 20 foot high flames ravaged the thatched cottage attic in a matter of minutes. Photos: Matthew Nixon

Neighbours said 20 foot high flames ravaged the thatched cottage attic in a matter of minutes. Photos: Matthew Nixon

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A blaze that destroyed a thatched cottage in a matter of hours nearly spread to neighbouring houses as 20 foot flames blew across the road.

10 fire crews attended the scene of the fire after smoke was seen rising from the cottage at 8.30pm  Photos: Matthew Nixon10 fire crews attended the scene of the fire after smoke was seen rising from the cottage at 8.30pm Photos: Matthew Nixon

A cottage on The Street in Halvergate burst into flames shortly after 8.30pm on New Year's Day and saw an elderly man taken to hospital for smoke inhalation after attempting to put out the fire himself.

"It was devastating," one neighbour said.

"Once the fire got a hold it was almost impossible to stop. As one end was put out the other went up in flames.

Fire crews successfuly prevented the fire from spreading to neighbouring cottages made of the same thatched roofing. Photos: Matthew NixonFire crews successfuly prevented the fire from spreading to neighbouring cottages made of the same thatched roofing. Photos: Matthew Nixon

"It was smouldering and there was smoke coming out of the roof. Suddenly it just went, there were 20 foot flames blowing across the road."

Six fire crews, including a specialist water carrier, were called to the fire in the small village off the Acle straight to put out and contain the fire which entirely destroyed the roof and insides of a cottage.

A large number of houses in Halvergate are built with thatched roofs, and many homeowners were worried about the flames spreading.

The cottage pictured in 2012. Photo: Google MapsThe cottage pictured in 2012. Photo: Google Maps

A neighbour opposite the fire said: "The first thing I thought is, 'I want a proper roof'.

"Quite a number of the houses here are thatched, there's a whole barn conversion with several just up the road, so there's a lot, it makes you think.

"We all came and watched to make sure the wind wasn't changing - I only got to bed at 3.30am when I knew it was definitely out.

"I've lived here 29 years and don't remember any fires, nothing like that. It was a proper blaze."

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While one man was hospitalised, his wife remained at the house to protect their pet dogs, but one is yet to be found.

A neighbour said: "I offered to take her dogs in, but she had them safe in the car.

"Although an older one hasn't been found but hopefully he just went into the woods and will come back soon."

Fire crews remained at the cottage until at least 9.30am, monitoring the building and keeping it damp.

A neighbour added: "Really it was a brilliant response by the fire service, they did all they could and were able to get here very promptly. It was a very old building and hopefully they have saved some of structure."

Luke Hancock, station manager for the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service southern district, said the owner of the cottage called 999 and was trying to put the flames out when firefighters arrived.

The station manager also said no-one else was in the cottage at the time, apart from the owner and his dog.

Mr Hancock said fire investigators would be on the scene but the fire was being treated as accidental.

A fundraiser has since been created by other residents in the town, who hope to raise money to help support the homeowners. It can be found here.

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