Investigation begins into thatched cottages fire

An investigation is under way after fire broke out in a row of picturesque thatched cottages, leaving three families temporarily homeless.

More than 50 firefighters were called to Weeting, near Brandon, when the blaze tore through three of the 10 cottages at 5pm on Sunday.

Fire crews from across Norfolk and Suffolk worked throughout the night preventing the flames from spreading further and they have been praised for their quick actions.

The fire is believed to have originated in number nine, The Row, and it is not yet known how it started.

An investigation into the cause began yesterday, but a spokesman for Norfolk Fire Service said it was not being treated as suspicious.

The Row, thought to be the longest continuous stretch of thatched housing in the country, has been hit by fire twice in the last four years.

Three cottages were destroyed when fire broke out on Easter Sunday 2007, just weeks after two homes were damaged in another blaze.

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Mike Nairn, who lives nearby, said the roof was completely missing from three of the cottages and there was extensive fire damage to the first floors.

'There's also water damage to the ground floors,' he said. 'Unfortunately it's becoming a familiar sight. Last time it was 14 months before they could move back in.

'It's sad to see them in this state, the cottages are a somewhat iconic feature of the village.'

A clean-up operation began in The Row yesterday, with residents collecting what belongings they could from the wreckage.

Firefighters from Brandon, Methwold, Thetford, Swaffham, Watton, Dereham, Downham Market, Wymondham and East Harling were sent to the scene on Sunday, together with a water carrier from Newmarket and the turn table from Bury St Edmunds.

Incident commander Rob Moyney praised the 'excellent' work of the crews and urged people living in thatched houses to take extra care.

Specific advice for thatched properties is available online at www.norfolkfireservice.gov.uk

daisy.wallage@archant.co.uk

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