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27 September 2010, 10:53 | Updated: 28 September 2010, 10:14
A fire that spread from a hedge to a car and then to a thatched house in Peterborough was started deliberately, according to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Almost 40 firefighters were needed to put out the flames at the property in The Village, Orton Longueville, in the early hours of this morning.
When crews arrived at the scene, the fire had already quickly spread from the hedge where it started to a car and to the straw roof of the property.
More firefighters were called to the house to get valuable items out of the house before they were destroyed.
Crews then used a turntable ladder to take some straw off the roof, creating a fire break, and preventing the fire from spreading further.
Ady Slack, Incident Commander for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Once a fire has started in a thatch roof it is very difficult to stop it from spreading.
This is a very large thatch roof, measuring about 20m by 12m.
Crews have worked extremely hard to remove straw from the roof to create a fire break and to use jets to keep the area cool to try and stop the fire from spreading.
There was no certainty that this would work, but at the moment we have stopped the fire from spreading to the remaining two thirds of the thatch."
After firefighters put out the flames, a structural engineer visited the scene and confirmed that the building remains structurally safe despite the fire.
UPDATE - 10:15am Tuesday
Police have confirmed that an investigation into the fire has started.
The fire caused more than £100,000 worth of damage to the 400 year old building.
Detective Constable Fiona Bail, who is investigating, said: "I would appeal for anyone who was in the area in the early hours of yesterday morning to consider if they saw anything suspicious that could help our inquiries.
A man in a silver car was seen in the area at the time and may have witnessed the incident. Any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, could be very important to our investigation."
Anyone with information should is asked to contact DC Bail on 0345 456 456 4, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.