Photo gallery: Thatched roof fire in Norfolk village

Three families were tonight made temporarily homeless after a chocolate box row of thatched cottages went up in flames.

Three families were tonight made temporarily homeless after a chocolate box row of thatched cottages went up in flames.

More than 50 firefighters were called to Weeting, near Brandon, after the fire broke out at the idyllic row of cottages at about 5pm today (Sunday).

Fire crews worked quickly to contain the fire to three of the 10 cottages and expect to be there overnight to tackle the blaze.

It is the second time in four years that The Row, which is reputed to be the longest stretch of continuous thatched housing in the country, has been hit by fire.

On Easter Sunday in 2007, three of the cottages were destroyed by a fire which broke out just weeks after the next two along were also damaged in another blaze.

It is not yet known what caused today's fire but fire chiefs warned for people to take extra care at thatched properties.

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Debbie MacGregor, who lives in one of the cottages which was involved in the fire, said she was indoors watching television when her neighbours alerted her to the blaze.

'It was a case of get out and leave everything,' said Ms MacGregor who has live in The Row for two years. 'It was definitely a shock at first. I've always wanted to live under thatch - it's so romantic, isn't it? I don't know how long it will be before I can go move back in. It's so sad. They are such idyllic and pretty cottages.'

It is believed the fire started at number nine which is occupied by a family.

Sue Nairn, 60, who lives nearby, said: 'We've lived here nearly 33 years and we've seen at least four if not five fires there. It's so devastating. The Row is an iconic part of Weeting. 'It's such a shame and three families have been left temporarily homeless. Luckily it looks like they have managed to contain the damage and that no one was hurt.'

Amanda Snell, from the village, said: 'This is such a tragedy and not the first time The Row has gone up in flames. Huge credit to the brave firefighters.'

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

Rob Moyney, incident commander, said: 'It was the middle cottage which was affected by fire. With thatched roofs you get rapid fire spread. Our crews have done well to create a fire break and protect the new end.

'Thatched roofs are no more dangerous than normal roofs. The message is to maintain your heating, ensure you have got smoke alarms in your house and take care with thatch.'

Elsewhere, seven fire engines were called to tackle a blaze in Great Yarmouth. The fire brigade was called to an outdoor storage building containg cylinders in High Mill Road at 4pm.

Have you got any pictures? Did you see the fire? Send your pictures, comments and video footage to newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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