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Two people escape as more than 90 firefighters battle Ashwellthorpe thatched cottage fire

The fire in The Street, Ashwellthorpe. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

The fire in The Street, Ashwellthorpe. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Archant

The owners of a historic thatched property in a quiet Norfolk village are today trying to put their home back together after more than 90 firefighters spent several hours tackling a huge blaze there.

Two residents were inside the building in The Street, Ashwellthorpe, near Wymondham, when a chimney fire broke out at 4.32pm yesterday (Wednesday, February 15).

The fire then spread to the roof, which was completely alight by the time crews arrived.

As crews from Attleborough, Long Stratton, Sprowston, Harleston, Dereham and Wymondham arrived, firefighters battled the flames from inside and outside of the building.

They also used an aerial ladder to try and contain the flames.

The fire in The Street, Ashwellthorpe. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH The fire in The Street, Ashwellthorpe. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Incident commander Paul Seaman said: “We had a very short window of opportunity to go in and fight the fire because conditions can change very quickly.”

Even several hours after the initial call smoke could be seen pouring from the roof, and the crews remained at the scene until 11pm to strip the thatch and douse pockets of fire in the roof.

Mr Seaman confirmed there had been two occupants inside the 15m x 10m two-storey house at the time, who managed to get out safely.

Neighbours have also come forward to offer their support to the occupants.

Lorraine Kenchington, 55, who lives near to the property in Old Hall Close, Ashwellthorpe, made the firefighters tea as they dealt with the incident.

“I came home about 6pm and there were lots of fire engines,” she said.

“I was very concerned. My main concern was for the family. Once I knew everyone was safe I told them that we’re there to help if there’s anything they need. We don’t want to pry but we wanted to let them know we’re here.

“It was a shock and very sad to see.”

Lynn Preston, also of Old Hall Close, added: “It is a horrible thing to happen to anyone and I’d wish them well.”

Another Old Hall Close resident, who did not want to be named, said: “It is the worst thing in the world to happen. Seeing someone else’s house go up in flames is bad enough.”

Police and ambulance also attended the scene, with a row of eight fire engines parked along The Street in Ashwellthorpe throughout the evening. The road was reopened again at 9.40pm.

The residents of the building did not want to comment at this time.

Did you see the incident? Email your photos to andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk.

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