Family 'devastated' after thatched cottage badly damaged in fire

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham. Picture: Danielle Boode

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

A family has been left “shocked” and “devastated”, after a serious fire left the home of a woman in her 70s badly damaged. 

Fire crews were called to a thatched cottage on High Road, in Needham, at around 6.30pm on April 20, after eyewitnesses reported that the roof was on fire. 

The home owner Susan ‘Kitty’ Simmonds, who was unaware and inside at the time, was alerted by a neighbour and taken to safety with her dog. 

But Ms Simmonds' son-in-law, Richard Scoulding said all she could do was watch as her home went up in flames. 

The 55-year-old said: “This is my mother-in-law's house. She is doing okay and is staying with her daughter at the moment. I haven’t seen her today but she was confused and in shock last night. 

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham. Picture: Danielle Boode

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

“I left here at about 5pm yesterday, safe and sound and said goodnight for the evening and then we had a phone call at half 6. 

“A neighbour a few houses down saw the fire, banged on the door, ran inside and said ‘you need to get out your house it’s on fire’ and that was the first she knew about it. 

“She hasn’t been back to the house yet. She left here about 10.30pm last night. She was at a neighbour's house just watching through the window. 

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“We are all shocked and devastated.” 

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham. Picture: Danielle Boode

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Scoulding said the mother-of-three has lived in the cottage since the early 70s. 

And despite efforts to salvage personal belongings including “precious photos", items on the top floor including all of Ms Simmonds' clothes were destroyed in the blaze. 

He added: “We don’t know what the extent of the damage is. We have been told that the gable ends could collapse at some point and the chimney. 

“We would just like to say thank you to the emergency services they were here really quickly and have been working really hard.” 

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

13 crews battled the fire into the night, including 11 from Norfolk and 2 from Suffolk, and a relief crew remain on the scene this morning. 

Andrew Hart, crew manager at Martham, said: “We turned up at 5.45am this morning as a relief pump and we are damping down hotspots that are still left on the roof.  

“You can see the destruction that was caused from the thatched roof which was on fire, so we are making sure it is all out and the area secure.  

“There is no indication of what started the fire at this point.” 

Firefighters at scene of thatched cottage fire.

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in Needham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham. Picture: Danielle Boode

Firefighters at the scene of a thatched cottage fire on High Road in Needham. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden


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