Beds, Herts & Bucks

Buckinghamshire thatched cottage badly damaged by fire

Image caption Firefighters checked on nearby thatched properties during the blaze

More than 70 firefighters have tackled a blaze at a thatched cottage in Buckinghamshire.

Nine crews were called to the fire at Lower End, Thornborough, near Buckingham on Saturday evening.

The fire began in the chimney and spread to the roof of the historic building, causing severe damage.

Firefighters were called shortly before 1950 BST and tackled the blaze throughout the night, returning to keep a "watching brief" on Sunday.

Group manager Richard Priest, incident commander for Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We are relieved that the occupant was able to leave the cottage safely before we arrived."

"Thatch is designed to repel water, so our priority was to remove material from the roof and create a break to try to prevent the fire from spreading.

"In spite of our best efforts, the fire had already started to take hold and it has gone on to destroy the roof and damage the first and ground floors.

Image caption Firefighters managed to salvage some of the owner's possessions from the house

"It was a lovely building and it is very sad that it has been so badly damaged.

"The occupant asked us to salvage a number of possessions, and we were able to remove everything he requested."

Firefighters visited other thatched properties in the area to make sure they were not in danger from the embers coming from the fire.

Owners and occupiers of thatched properties in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes have been urged to contact the fire service for safety advice.

As well as offering free fire safety checks, the organisation has asked residents to pay special attention to the condition of their chimneys.

There have been more than 60 thatch fires in the county over the past decade, including one on Friday in Great Kimble, near Aylesbury.

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