'Never seen smoke like it': Fierce blaze engulfs thatched cottage
PUBLISHED: 06:42 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:30 22 January 2020
A cottage has been left in ruins after a fierce blaze tore through its thatched roof.
Fire crews from two counties were called to the two-storey property in Pound Corner, Barningham, near Bury St Edmunds, just after 9.20pm on Tuesday night.
Next door neighbour Phil Wilkinson said: "I was watching TV around 9.30pm and smelled smoke in the house. I went outside and saw that the whole place next door was up.
"I couldn't see any flames but I've never seen smoke like it.
"You couldn't see your hand in front of your face it was that thick.
"I could hear people and then I heard the voice of the bloke living next door.
"I went up their drive and round the back of the house to see if I could help but I could see that their children were safely sat in the car."
Rosie Bradbury, who lives in nearby Bishop's Croft, said: "I heard sirens and outside it was like being in a city with the blue lights and smoke.
"What's upsetting is you can't do anything to help. I wanted to but you don't want to get in the way.
"That poor family, I just hope they are getting the support they need."
Sixteen engines were initially called to the incident from across Norfolk and Suffolk; two from Diss, one from East Harling, two from Thetford, one from Woodbridge, one from Eye, two from Haverhill, two from Bury St Edmunds, one from Elmswell, two from Ixworth, one from Brandon, and one from Newmarket.
The occupants and their two children safely escaped without any injury.
Station Commander Mark Walker, of Bury fire station, the fire investigation officer, said the severity of the fire meant the cause may never be known.
"The property has suffered significant damage," he said. "The roof has collapsed and what remains is badly damaged. There are several possible causes but the damage is such it may not be possible to establish."
He said the loss of power reported by some residents was down to power to the property being turned off as firefighters tackled the blaze.
Group commander Will Tell, who was at the scene of the fire, told BBC Suffolk that the family had been shopping and cooking in the hours before the blaze started, noticing the fire had started while they watched TV.