FIREFIGHTERS battled through the night in a bid to save a £1m 17th century thatched cottage.
The blaze began at 7pm on Sunday and 55 firefighters from across Hampshire were drafted in to tackle the infernoa, as reported in The News yesterday.
The thatched roof and first floor of the cottage, in South Lane, Buriton, near Petersfield, were destroyed while the rest of the property suffered extensive water damage.
The owners – who are believed to be a retired couple – were evacuated and given support by the Red Cross.
They have only recently finished major renovations to the property which is listed as a Hampshire Treasure by Hampshire County Council.
Tony Deacon, from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, was the officer in charge at the scene.
He said: ‘Upon our arrival we could see lots of heavy smoke in the vicinity, 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.
‘Fire crews also carried out salvage to help prevent water damage and remove valuable property.’
High Street remained closed in both directions between the South Lane junction and the Petersfield Road junction until early yesterday afternoon.
And some parts of the village were without water from 7pm on Sunday until 7am yesterday.
A thatched roof expert said that replacing the thatch could take up to three months and cost in the region of £20,000.
Andrew Bray, chairman of Buriton Parish Council, said: ‘This is very sad.
‘While I have personally never experienced a house fire a member of my family has and you lose so many personal artefacts which hold memories that are then lost forever.
‘My sympathies go out to the family. It must be dreadful for them.’
The fire service is still investigating the cause of the blaze but initial findings suggest it is not suspicious.