The owner of a cottage which was badly damaged by fire yesterday morning has spoken of her shock.

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Up to 30 firefighters tackled the blaze in Pug Street in Shimpling, near Diss, which broke out at about 9am.

The tenant, called Sheila, her daughter and their pet rabbit managed to escape unharmed while firefighters rescued their dogs, Molly and Henry.

Both dogs were taken to the vets as a precaution.

It is not yet known how the fire started and investigations will continue today.

The owner of the property, Margaret Knights, had bought the mid-terraced cottage with her husband, Max, 30 years ago.

The couple, who now live in Pulham St Mary, had renovated the house and lived there for 28 years before renting it out.

Mrs Knights, 65, said: “I’m shocked. It was just a lovely cottage, a beautiful, beautiful cottage.

“I loved that cottage, I put my heart and soul into that property.

“It’s the last thing you expect but at least no one was hurt.

“I feel for Sheila, it’s her life down here now and I feel for my husband as he’s now got the worry of sorting everything out.”

Fire crews from Diss, Harleston, Long Stratton and Carrow were sent to the scene.

Police officers also attended to close off the road.

Firefighters managed to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjoining houses.

Station manager Ray Harcourt said: “Crews were initially hampered by a lack of water and the severity of the fire.

“The initial crews requested additional appliances and we had five appliances here.

“The crews did a fantastic job of stopping the fire spreading to the neighbouring properties and kept it under control.”

Fire crews stayed on site until dark yesterday and were due to return this morning.

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