Updated: Seventy firefighters tackle thatch fire at Breckles, near Attleborough
A family were left homeless after fire ripped through their thatched cottage yesterday.
More than 70 firefighters were on the scene at the height of the blaze at Breckles, near Attleborough, close to a busy A-road.
The owner of the two-storey thatched property was praised by fire officers for his actions yesterday after discovering smoke coming from the roof and getting his family out of the house unharmed. The householder also managed to remove a gas cylinder and isolate heating oil supplies to the house, off the A1075, before the arrival of fire crews.
Firefighters were able to save and recover the family's ground floor possessions, but were unable to stop the blaze from taking hold in the roof space.
Seven fire crews from Watton, East Harling, Thetford, Attleborough and Hingham were called to the incident just after 2.30pm and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service officers said they would maintain a presence throughout the night.
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The blaze resulted in the A1075, which runs between Thetford and Watton, being closed for several hours while firefighters tackled the thatch blaze.
An investigation has begun, but Hethersett station manager Brian Walshe said it was too early to establish the cause of the fire.
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He added: 'He [the owner] noticed smoke coming from the roof and went back inside to get his family out and he closed the doors to prevent the fire from spreading and isolated some services to the house. It was good work because if there had been a gas cylinder, there was a risk of that exploding,' he said.
Firefighters had attempted to tackle the blaze from the inside of the cottage, but were pushed back as the fire spread.
Crews were last night pulling off the smouldering thatch from the roof to put out the fire.
'The problem with thatch is that you get patches and hot spots and we have to be very careful to remove it completely or there is a risk of it reigniting. The crews have done really well. Their priority was to stop the fire from spreading and commence salvage,' added station manager Walshe.
Group manager Andy Heginbotham, of Thetford fire station, added that they would be returning to the scene this morning to dampen down.
'All of the crews have worked extremely hard and achieved a considerable amount considering the extent of the fire,' he said.
A water carrier and support pump from Hethersett, control unit and support from Wymondham, the aerial ladder platform and support from Earlham and the operational support unit from Dereham also attended.
A victim support unit from the British Red Cross was called to help the family and the hazardous area response team from the East of England Ambulance Service also attended as a precaution.