Coldham Hall pub owner praises firefighters for saving the historic building

The owner of a popular Broads pub near Surlingham praised the quick response of firefighters last night, for stopping a kitchen blaze from spreading to an historic thatched building.

More than 40 firefighters and 10 appliances from stations across Norfolk and Suffolk were called to the fire at the Coldham Hall pub in Surlingham, near Norwich, which happened shortly after staff left after a busy lunchtime service.

The owner of the property said they were 'very lucky' that the blaze did not spread and praised the vigilance of boaters on the nearby River Yare and neighbours for alerting the fire service to the smoke coming from their building just after 3pm yesterday. The blaze was contained in the 1970s extension, used to prepare food, and did not spread to the main building after firefighters used heat-resistant foam to protect its thatch roof.

George Linder, who bought the picturesque 19th century pub and restaurant with his wife Natalie, five years ago, said no one was in the pub at the time of the incident.

He added that the response from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service had been 'brilliant' and pledged to reopen as soon as possible.

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'They were here very quickly. Some people who were on boats out of the front and our next door neighbours on both sides reported it. We have been very, very lucky and the service from the fire department has been very good.

'We do not plan to be shut very long. The restaurant and the main pub as far as we are aware are unaffected,' he said.

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Coldham Hall was named South Norfolk Community Pub of the Year in 2011 and the owners hope to reopen tomorrow.

Fire crews from Sprowston, Carrow, Earlham, Loddon, Earlham, Long Stratton, Beccles and Gorleston stations were called to attend the incident at 3.14pm and had tackled the blaze by 4.50pm.

An investigation was launched yesterday evening into the cause of the fire, with the assistance of Norfolk police forensics officers.

Phil Berry, investigator for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: 'We had a fairly serious fire in the kitchen area of a popular restaurant and our main concern was the potential of it spreading to the thatch and crews worked really well to contain the fire.

'There is significant damage and there is an investigation into the cause. The main building is unaffected.'

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