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Blaze destroys thatched barn

PUBLISHED: 10:15 30 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:10 01 August 2010

DOZENS of firefighters spent more than four hours tackling a fire in outbuildings at a farm near Bungay yesterday.

The fire started in a thatched barn at Duke's Farm, on St John's Road, at about noon and soon 10 fire engines and about 60 firefighters were at the scene as the blaze spread to some nearby brick buildings.

DOZENS of firefighters spent more than four hours tackling a fire in outbuildings at a farm near Bungay on Wednesday.

The fire started in a thatched barn at Duke's Farm, on St John's Road, at about noon and soon 10 fire engines and about 60 firefighters were at the scene as the blaze spread to some nearby brick buildings.

It was the biggest blaze in the Bungay area since the maltings at Ditchingham was badly damaged in January, 1999 - a fire which led to its ultimate closure.

The thatched barn at the centre of the yard, which contained farm machinery and hay, was completely destroyed by the flames, which also caused some damage to surrounding brick storage barns.

The flames were under control within about two hours, but the crews spent about four hours at the farm - opposite Bungay swimming pool on the A144 Bungay to Halesworth road - making the damaged buildings safe so that officers could get inside to find out what might have caused the fire.

Fire group manager John Tiffen said: “The whole of the thatched barn has been destroyed, but the timber frame is still in situ, though it is structurally unsafe.

“We have been fighting the fire externally and are going to pull down some of the timbers to try to get to the seat of the fire, which we think is inside the destroyed timber barn. There was hay in the barn and all the thatch dropped down on to it, which created a lot of smoke.

“It seems that the buildings at the back are all brick, but the one in the middle, which all the others stem from, had a thatched roof.”

He added: “At the height of the fire we had ten engines here, so about 50 or 60 firefighters. We do not know what caused the fire, but our fire investigators are currently working at the scene.”

The large, historic Duke's Farm house, situated about 100m away from the barns, was not damaged and the owners were not at home. No one was hurt, though an ambulance was called as a precaution.

As well as fire crews from Beccles, Bungay, Lowestoft, Loddon, Yarmouth and Harleston, police were called to help control the flow of traffic along the busy road next to the farm. One crew was still there in the evening monitoring the fire in case it flared up again.

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