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Owner vows to rebuild historic barn ravaged by fire near Halesworth

PUBLISHED: 17:20 10 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:20 10 December 2017

Fire crews damping down and checking for hotspots at the scene of the thatched house fire in Chediston. Picture: MICK HOWES

Fire crews damping down and checking for hotspots at the scene of the thatched house fire in Chediston. Picture: MICK HOWES

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The owner of a 15th century thatched barn ravaged by fire has vowed to rebuild the “lovely old” property.

At the height of the fire, 29 crews were on scene. Picture: TERRY TOOZEAt the height of the fire, 29 crews were on scene. Picture: TERRY TOOZE

Firefighters battled for more than seven hours to contain a fierce blaze that destroyed an outbuilding and severely damaged the thatched barn, in Chediston, near Halesworth.

Investigations into the cause of the fire has begun, with 27 fire engines from Suffolk and two crews from Norfolk involved in tackling the blaze throughout Friday night and Saturday morning.

The outbuilding was completely destroyed in the blaze which started in Halesworth Road, Chediston at around 10.30pm on Friday.

About 70pc of the roof of the main building – which is used as offices and storage space for an independent living centre – was lost in the fire, which was declared under control at 5.43am on Saturday.

Fire crews damping down and checking for hotspots at the scene of the thatched house blaze in Chediston. Picture: MICK HOWESFire crews damping down and checking for hotspots at the scene of the thatched house blaze in Chediston. Picture: MICK HOWES

Owner Veronica Downing runs an occupational therapy practice – Veronica Downing Associates – from the site at Bridge Farm, which provides expert services countrywide.

Mrs Downing said: “It’s a lovely old barn. In 2006 the building was renovated and restored as a barn conversion took place. It’s my business premises and at the moment we are having to clear up everything.

“We are so very saddened it’s met this end – but it will be rebuilt.”

Mrs Downing, who is also the owner of Rehability, based at Bridge Street, Halesworth, added: “The neighbours have been fantastic, they have all rallied round and I am very grateful to all of those who have offered their support.”

The scene of the thatched house blaze in Chediston. Picture: MICK HOWESThe scene of the thatched house blaze in Chediston. Picture: MICK HOWES

At its height, more than 20 fire crews battled the flames in cold conditions. There was no-one was in the building at the time of the blaze. Police also attended to close the B1123 road after the outbuilding collapsed.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service station commander Steve Rhind said: “On arrival there was a well-developed fire in an outhouse, which caught into the thatch of the main property.

“From there crews battled through the night to control the thatched fire. It was a thatched property so crews fought valiantly off ladders internally and outside to fight the fire and remove the thatch as quickly as possible.

“It was hard work and the crews did a great job.”

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