'It no longer feels like home' - Family left heartbroken following thatch blaze
PUBLISHED: 17:02 24 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 25 February 2019
A heartbroken family who watched a fire rip through the roof of their farmhouse say it no longer feels like home.
About 60 firefighters battled the thatch blaze in Bergh Apton Road, Mundham, on Saturday night, with fire crews remaining on scene until 1.50am.
Richard Key, 76, who has lived at the farmhouse with his wife Margaret for 55 years, said he was devastated by the fire.
Mr Key was watching television in his lounge when his nephew Simon started banging on the door to tell him his thatched roof was alight.
“I did not believe him at first because I could not smell any smoke but I went outside and was shocked to see the flames,” he said.
“After we called the fire service Simon went up the ladder to pat the fire down and we thought we had stopped it.”
Ten crews of firefighters from both Norfolk and Suffolk arrived on scene by 7.30pm as the blaze continued to grow.
Mr Key’s son, Wes, 40, described his shock at seeing the house he has lived in all his life damaged by the flames.
He said: “Once I got outside I was shaking and in a bad way.
“I have had so many memories here so it was heartbreaking to see.
“It no longer feels like home.”
Mr Key’s grandfather Frederick lived in the farmhouse - which was formerly two separate cottages - almost 200 years ago and it has been kept in the family ever since.
The 76-year-old said: “I am just relived nobody has been hurt.
“Without the brilliant efforts of the firefighters the damage could have been much worse.”
Despite many of the carpets in the house suffering water damage, all other valuables within the property are thought to be unscathed.
The thatch at one end of the house has been torn through, leaving the beams totally exposed and there is a clear fire break cut down the middle of the roof.
Having slept in his bedroom - at the other end of the farmhouse - on Saturday night, Mr Key is determined not to have to move out while the clean up continues.
“I love it here, it is usually very quiet and peaceful which means I can just go about my day to day business of farming,” he said.
“So long as it is safe I will be staying here.”