Major fire tears through homes

Householders were yesterday picking through the debris of their homes after a major fire tore through three properties in a west Suffolk village.

Householders were yesterday picking through the debris of their homes after a major fire tore through three properties in a west Suffolk village.

Having initially been dispatched to a report of a mobility scooter on fire at Lakenheath, retained firefighters from Brandon were stunned when from miles away they spotted plumes of smoke billowing into the sky.

The fire, reported at 12.38pm yesterday, left three detached bungalows with serious damage to their roofs, garages, fences and gardens. Nobody was injured.

Witnesses and firefighters spoke of plumes of smoke rising above the village and said the fire, which began in the disability buggy, spread to oil tanks - worsening the flames and the smoke.

Neighbours in the Arrowhead Drive area rushed to offer help to those affected as five teams of firefighters - from Brandon, Mildenhall, Thetford and Newmarket - worked to bring the flames under control.

One of the homeowners affected was 69-year-old Rosalind Bennett. Her garage, which doubled as a utility area, has been destroyed and the roof of her bungalow was left partially melted by the blaze.

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Mrs Bennett told how she was at the computer inside her home when the fire started.

She said: “A neighbour knocked on the door and said the shed was on fire. It started with a motor scooter and it just went from one thing to another. We have lost everything in our garage including the freezer and the utility annexe.

“Our roof is melted, the doors are cracked, the plants have burnt and our windows will have to be replaced.

“But this is a wonderful neighbourhood and everybody came out to help.”

Her husband, Jon, was driving back from work at the American airbase RAF Mildenhall when he spotted flames rising in the distance.

He said: “I saw everything and I thought to myself, 'that doesn't look good'.

“As I got closer I realised it was our street and then I realised our house was one of those affected.

“You can't get mad about it, it is just one of those things. It was unbelievable the way it caught on, but flames and oil is a volatile mixture.”

Brandon retained firecrew was the first to arrive at the scene. The crew's sub-officer Sean Byrne said: “It was well alight and there were thick black plumes that you could see from a distance.

“The fire started with an invalid scooter but it rapidly spread to sheds and garages and so on. Because of the oil we had to use foam and we sent people in using specialist breathing apparatus.

“Had we not have got this under control when we did, this fire would have spread.”

The fire was brought under control at about 2.30pm although firefighters remained at the scene to help affected residents and to check for hot spots on buildings.

Anybody interested in getting a fire safety pack delivered or a smoke detector installed should contact the fire service's community safety department on 01473 588888.