Firefighters tackle thatch blaze

Fire crews from across Norfolk and Suffolk were called to a roof blaze today threatened to destroy a row of historic thatched cottages in a village.

Fire crews from across Norfolk and Suffolk were called to a roof blaze today threatened to destroy a row of historic thatched cottages in a village.

More than 50 firefighters were called to Weeting, near Brandon, after smoke started issuing from the middle section of a row of 18th century terraced housing.

Occupants of The Row, which is reputed to be the longest stretch of continuous thatch housing in the country, were evacuated at about 11.45am today after a fire took hold in the roof area of one of the properties.

Fire chiefs praised the efforts of crews that managed to contain the blaze to just the thatch of numbers 5 and 6 of the ten Peddars Way Housing Association and privately owned homes.

Firefighters from Brandon, Methwold, Dereham, Thetford, Swaffham, Watton, East Harling, and Fakenham, are currently still at the scene.

Terry Larkowsky , area commander for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said it was too early to determine the exact cause of the blaze, but the incident highlighted an ongoing campaign to encourage regular cleaning, inspection and maintenance of chimneys and flues at thatched properties.

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“Thatch fires are extremely difficult because thatch is designed to keep water out, so we have had to take the thatch off to get to the fire, which exposes the dry thatch. The crews did a fantastic job and if they had not performed the actions they did when they arrived, the whole row could have gone up,” he said.