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Blaze forces couple to quit family home

PUBLISHED: 08:42 23 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 July 2010

A COUPLE were yesterday forced to make emergency plans to stay with friends over Christmas after a fierce blaze destroyed the roof and first floor of their home in Cantley, near Great Yarmouth.

A COUPLE were yesterday forced to make emergency plans to stay with friends over Christmas after a fierce blaze destroyed the roof and first floor of their home in Cantley, near Great Yarmouth.

Among the heartbreaking toll of possessions and clothes destroyed were Christmas presents that Sheila Jones and Martin Jamieson had only finished wrapping the day before.

The blaze that ripped through the five-year-old detached property in Oak Tree Close was so intense that firefighters were still spraying a hose on to smouldering roof beams four hours after it was discovered at 6.20am yesterday.

As station manager Michael Hawkins began his fire investigation he said the most likely cause seemed to be mice gnawing electrical wiring in the roof space.

Ms Jones, who runs the Mambo Jambo Mexican restaurant in Norwich with her partner, said: “Martin woke me up at 6.20am and said he thought there was a fire as he could smell burning and hear a crackling sound.

“He opened the loft hatch on the landing and discovered the whole roof was ablaze. The smoke detectors had not gone off at that stage because it was still contained in the loft.”

She said she had run next door and woken up neighbour Richard Holmes to ask him for hoses and water but it was too late as the fire had started to spread from the roof.

“My brother Roy Tait is a firefighter at Sprowston and I rang him for advice, but he said there was nothing we could do other than wait for the firefighters.

“We just got outside with our two dogs, a mastiff and a boxer. By the time the firefighters arrived the house was well ablaze,” she said.

Ms Jones praised the support of friends and neighbours who had supplied them with cups of tea as they watched the firefighters at work.

She said: “The whole of the top floor has gone. We have already spoken to the insurance company but it is going to be months before we can return home.

“The worst thing is losing the presents. You take such a lot of care choosing them and I only finished wrapping them yesterday.”

She said they had just finished redecorating upstairs in preparation for her partner's parents coming to stay for Christmas.

A fire crew from Acle had been first on the scene and had been quickly joined by two crews from Yarmouth and one from Sprowston.

Station Manager Hawkins said once the roof tiles began to fall in, air would have accelerated the blaze dramatically.

“When the crew from Acle arrived the fire was already travelling down the stairs to the ground floor,” he said.


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