A Withersfield couple’s plans to move home have been dashed after their picturesque thatched cottage went up in flames at the weekend.
Just days after finding a buyer for the Grade II listed cottage on Turnpike Hill, Rob and Julia Tilson were forced to watch their three-bedroom home go up in smoke.
It was destroyed on Sunday morning when sparks from a woodburner they were using in the garden accidentally set fire to the thatched roof. The flames quickly took hold and sent the roof crashing into the house and gutting it.
Mr Tilson, 62, said: “We were using the wood burner, then my wife Julia suddenly yelled and we saw that the roof was on fire.
“We called the fire brigade and made sure we got everything out we needed.
“Ironically, we had just sold the house. We’ll have to make a phone call to the estate agent tomorrow.
“We had put in an offer for another house, but now I guess we’ll have to re-build now. I’m just glad nobody was hurt.”
Ten fire engines were sent to tackle the blaze and firefighters from Suffolk were reinforced by crews from Essex and Cambridgeshire amid fears the flames would spread to nearby neighbouring properties.
Neighbours Jean and Brian Church described the blaze as “horrific”. Because the smoke was so thick and acrid, they were advised to stay in their home and not go outside.
“It started about 10.30am, but the firefighters were still here at 8pm in the evening dealing with it,” said Mr Church.
“It was horrific. The smoke was very thick, and you couldn’t see a thing.
“There was a bike race taking place at the bottom of the hill, so it must have been diverted because the road was closed for the day. “They are a lovely couple; they were moving to Thurlow in a couple of weeks’ time,” he added.