Sydenham House fire damage 'tragic'

The roof and much of the first floor were destroyed

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The owner of a Grade I-listed Elizabethan stately home near Launceston has praised the fire teams that worked to save the property.

Nearly 100 firefighters were involved in tackling the blaze at Sydenham House near Launceston on Wednesday.

Graeme Hart, who has owned the home and 1,200 acre estate since 1992 said the fire was "tragic."

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) said the roof and much of the first floor was destroyed.

'Must be rebuilt'

Mr Hart said: ""It couldn't have been more severe. The flames were coming through the roof. It was tragic.

"I was out during the day. I was phoned by my secretary to say there were flames coming out of the window. Immediately I returned to find the situation."

The fire service said the building was being "damped down" and an investigation had started.

DSFRS was called to the three-storey, 16th century, building at about 16:00 GMT on Wednesday when a fire started in a first floor bedroom.

Mr Hart said: "The firefighters have come from all corners of Devon and Cornwall. They have done a brilliant job."

The fire teams are now investigating the property to decide what is salvageable and what is dangerous structure wise.

Mr Hart said: ""It has got to be rebuilt, it's a historic Grade I-listed building."

'Hidden voids'

At its height, 15 fire crews from Devon and Cornwall were working on the property and at one point were withdrawn from part of the building over fears it would collapse.

Area Commander Chris Bridgeman said: "It's very large, it's rambling [with] lots of hidden voids [causing] rapid fire spread.

"With it being heavily wooden inside it was very unsafe, so we were unable to work inside for any length of time."

There were no reports of anyone being in the building or injured.

The privately owned house forms part of the Sydenham Estate which organises farming and shooting functions.

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