An ex-hotel owner and his partner have been left without a home for Christmas after a fire has ruined their Grade II listed thatched house in Lower Foyle, Hampshire.
The fire is assumed to have been initiated from a spark in the chimney, and escalated to requiring almost 80 firefighters as the thatched roof caught fire. Luckily, no one was harmed and no injuries were caused during the incident.
A next door neighbour called the emergency services and warned property owner, Gordon Mitchell, within minutes of the fire spreading on the roof. More neighbours joined together with wheelbarrows and boxes to assist in rescuing any items from the ground floor of the house.
Despite the fact that the help of the neighbours enabled the couple to save the majority of their belongings from the ground floor, Mr Mitchell says the first floor went up in flames too quickly.
He described the thatch roof as being one of the biggest problems contributing to the quick spread of the fire, as it's made of a combustible material.
A Hampshire Fire and Rescue service spokesman said that the thatched roof and top floor was completely ruined by fire, whereas the ground floor was destroyed from a combination of fire, smoke and water.
It is said that the first lot of firefighters, from the 19 stations that were contacted, arrived within 15 minutes of the phone call from the neighbour. The crews spent hours extinguishing the flames through till morning where they continued to target hotspots in the property.
Mr Mitchell expects that it will take a very long time to build the house again, and will be relying on his family to house him and his partner over the Christmas period.
Crews have been searching the property for Mr Mitchell's partner's ring which had great meaning and was lost among the remnants.
Having only lived in the property for 5 years, Mr Mitchell plans to have the property rebuilt but due to its Grade II listing, it would probably have to have a thatched roof again.
He thanks the firefighters for their response and his neighbours for the help of removing items as well as one who allowed them to stay overnight.
Firefighters have spent the day after the fire looking for any items of personal value, most importantly the lost ring, said the station commander at East Hampshire Fire Service.
Following this incident, the community safety department plan to advise people living in the village on fire safety to help prevent similar situations occurring in the future.
LISTED PROPERTY PROTECTION (LPP) SERVICES:
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