Fire in a thatched property
A semi-detached thatched cottage near Swindon has been destroyed by fire that took place on the morning of 30th November.
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service was called to the hamlet of Hodson at 7.07am and found the roof of the property well alight.
In order to fight the fire and also save the adjoining cottage, some sixty firefighters from 12 fire crews – from Swindon (two), Stratton, Westlea, Marlborough, Cricklade, Pewsey, Chippenham (two), Trowbridge, Melksham and Malmesbury – were sent to the scene.
Also mobilised were the Swindon aerial appliance, an incident command vehicle from Stratton, water carriers from Ramsbury and Royal Wootton Bassett, and an operational support unit from Swindon.
Firefighters were able to create a fire break in the thatch, which prevented the blaze from spreading to the neighbouring property. Furniture and possessions were also salvaged from the ground floor of the affected cottage.
The number of fire engines on scene was then reduced to four (from Swindon, Bradford on Avon, Westbury and Mere), as firefighters could no longer work close to the building due to concerns about its structural integrity. The aerial appliance was used to get water onto hot spots from above.
Group Manager Kathy Collis praised the local community for its support throughout the day: “On such a bitterly cold morning, to have hot drinks, mince pies and other refreshments provided by neighbours and the local pub, the Calley Arms, was incredibly welcome, as was the food provided by the Plymouth Brethren. There has also been a huge amount of support for the affected family, and the British Red Cross emergency response team from Swindon has been at the scene to provide additional help.”
Because of the freezing conditions, a team from Swindon Borough Council’s highways department was needed first thing to grit the roads affected by the water run-off from the firefighting operation, and further gritting took place that night.
The road through Hodson had to be closed for much of the day, with assistance provided by Wiltshire Police.
While the fire started accidentally, the exact cause remains under investigation.
Advice on how to reduce the risk of fire in a thatched property can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/thatched-properties
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service offers free Safe & Well visits – to find out if you qualify, call 0800 038 2323.