Fire rips through thatched roof

Firefighters tackle the blaze at Southleigh Road in Warblington
Firefighters tackle the blaze at Southleigh Road in Warblington
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THE roof of a thatched cottage was destroyed in a fire.

The fire, which was in a two-storey detached house in Southleigh Road, near Berkeley Square in Warblington started at about 8.45pm on Tuesday.

Twelve fire engines, and more than 80 firefighters from as far away as Winchester, were sent to fight the fire.

Two adults, one child and two dogs got out of the house safely before the dozens of firefighters arrived.

The junction of Berkeley Square and Southleigh Road was cordoned off.

Tom Caton, who lives in Berkeley Square, said: ‘My wife said that there were a lot of fire engines outside and there was a house on fire.

‘There was smoke billowing over our back garden.

‘A bit later I went outside and saw a police car. They were trying to block people from coming through, and there were lots of fire engines.’

Eddie Austen, also from Berkeley Square, said: ‘We saw seven or eight fire engines go past the window. They were queued up outside. The only thing I could think was that it was the thatched cottage or Avenue Lawn tennis and squash club.’

Watch Manager Tim Burgess from Havant fire station said: ‘They had attempted to put out the fire in the thatched roof themselves with a hose before calling the fire service.

‘However, in this situation we strongly recommend that residents immediately leave the building and dial 999 and leave the firefighting to the experts.’

He continued: ‘When we arrived we could see lots of heavy smoke. Flames were visible in the thatch and the windy conditions were assisting the developing fire.

‘Firefighters tackled the fire from both outside of the property and from within the internal loft space where crews worked in arduous conditions as access was difficult.

‘This type of incident shows the devastating effects that a thatch fire can have. I urge thatch property householders to contact their local fire station for advice and guidance on preventative measures and maintenance tips specifically relevant to living in a thatch to help reduce the risk of fire.’

Fire service spokeswoman Jo Gray said: ‘The fire involves 100 per cent of the roof.

‘There will be a full fire investigation.’

Volunteers on call with the Red Cross in Hampshire were also called into action by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. They spent much of the night at Warblington giving emotional and practical support to the family.

Tackling the blaze were: two fire engines and the multi-role vehicle from Havant; one fire engine from Emsworth; two fire engines and the special equipment unit from Cosham; a water carrier from Fareham; one fire engine with a compressed air foam system from Winchester; the command support vehicle from Portchester; two fire engines from Waterlooville; one each from Southsea and Horndean, two from Hayling Island, one from Hightown, Southampton; a command support crew from Eastleigh, and the incident command unit from the Eastleigh headquarters.

Further firefighters from Andover, Portchester, Fareham, Wickham, St Mary’s, Southampton, Beaulieu, Eastleigh, Romsey and Grayshott fire stations were mobilised to relieve crews during the evening and early hours of today.