Brave passers-by prevent Ludham catastrophe

Two young engineers stumbled across a fire at a thatched cottage while taking the scenic way home from work and bravely evacuated nearby houses before catastrophe struck.

A blaze ripped through the roof of the Ludham home on Norwich Road opposite the church on Thursday evening and was eventually brought under control by eight fire crews.

Although much of the roof was destroyed, thanks to the actions of the two men nobody was hurt and the fire did not spread.

Pawel Rozenek, 31, and Adrian Bond, 29, had left work at Trend Marine in Catfield and were taking the long way back to Norwich because of the good weather.

As they drove through Ludham Mr Bond glanced up at the roof of the house and noticed smoke.

'It was just a little tiny whisp of smoke but it looked like it was just in front of the chimney,' he said.

The pair carried on driving for a moment, but Mr Bond decided to return for a second look.

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'We drove straight past it and I thought 'no, I'll check', because if it was my house I'd want someone to check,' he said.

'It's very, very lucky. I don't know what made me look up there.'

When they had turned around they saw small flames licking at the chimney and immediately rushed to get neighbours out of their home and summon the fire service.

The pair ran through the village banging on doors to alert families and got everyone outside on the street in case the fire spread.

'I sent Pawel down one street and I went down the other. He was brilliant,' said Mr Bond.

'It escalated really quickly. It was bedlam for a while, all of a sudden there's 200 people there.

'I ended up smashing through the locked gate of the burning house to slam on the door to make sure no one was inside.'

In the ten-minute wait before fire engines arrived neighbours attempted to spray the roof with garden hoses, but the flames continued to grow.

Once fire fighters had arrived and took over, the pair could stop and let events sink in.

'We couldn't do a lot so we made sure everyone was out of the way then went to have a beer to calm down,' said Mr Bond.

'My hands were shaking.'

Their car was trapped on the closed A1062 where they had left it, hemmed in by fire engines.

But by 6.45pm they were on their way home again, getting home to Thorpe Road in Norwich just an hour and a half late despite their brave actions.