1:15pm Thursday 11th April 2013
By Freya Leng
A COTTAGE was completely destroyed in an overnight in Welford-on-Avon.
Warwickshire Fire Control were called to the blaze in the two-storey property the High Street at 8.40pm last night.
About 30 firefighters fought for six hours to try and save the two-storey property but due to high winds the fire spread rapidly across the roof space causing complete devastation along the way.
The blaze is believed to have started due to heat transfer from the chimney to the thatched roof.
At its height, eight crews from Stratford, Bidford, Alcester, Rugby, Leamington and Wellesbourne attended along with the Command Support Vehicle from Atherstone and a crew from Fenny Compton.
Firefighters managed to bring the fire under control at 2am this morning but crews were still damping down this afternoon.
Station Commander for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, Ian Tonner said: "This was a very old cottage with low ceilings and a thatched roof.
"This meant that we had to dig out the roof space, similar to the way you would with a barn fire in order to get to the fire below.
"Due to the high winds, the fire spread rapidly and despite our best efforts, the property was completely destroyed.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, Gary Phillips said: “Whilst thatched cottages are beautiful and a significant part of Warwickshire’s heritage, they do need careful management.
"Sadly, this incident and the one in Welford last month are a stark reminder of how quickly a fire can take hold in a thatched property.
"This is something that we need to prevent from happening in order to save both lives and the county’s heritage.
“There are a number of reasons for these types of fires, the main being that a lot of cottages are using more modern solid fuel appliances which are designed to burn more efficiently and cleanly.
"This means that they burn at a much increased temperature which can be in excess of 300 to 600c, which then leaves the thatch vulnerable to the risk of heat transfer.
“On this occasion, the residents were still awake when the fire began, but had the fire smouldered late into the night, they may not have been so lucky.”
The road has now been re-opened.
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