Family Escape Thatched Cottage Fire

A family of three have escaped unhurt after the roof of their thatched cottage caught fire.

At 20:46 on Tuesday 3 May 2011 control operators were alerted to a fire at a thatched property at Southleigh Road in the Warblington area of Havant. 

The fire involved 100% of the thatched roof of the two story detached private dwelling measuring 18 meters by 6 meters.  A total of 75 firefighters were initially deployed to the scene together with senior officers and various support staff. 

Control operators mobilised twelve fire appliances to the scene along with other ancillary vehicles including:

Two fire appliances and the multi-role vehicle from Havant Fire Station, one fire appliance from Emsworth Fire Station,  two fire appliances and the Special Equipment Unit from Cosham, the Water Carrier from Fareham,  one fire appliance with CAFS (Compressed Air Foam System) from Winchester, the Command Support Vehicle from Portchester, two fire appliances from Waterlooville,  one fire appliance from Southsea, one fire appliance from Horndean, two fire appliances from Hayling Island, one fire appliance from Hightown, a command support crew from Eastleigh Fire Station and the Incident Command Unit from Service Headquarters, Eastleigh.

Further firefighters from Andover, Portchester, Fareham, Wickham, St Mary’s, Beaulieu, Eastleigh, Romsey and Grayshott fire stations were mobilised to relieve crews who had been tackling the blaze since the initial call.

Firefighters used 5 jets, 3 CAFS jets and 2 hose reels and 12 breathing apparatus to extinguish the fire.

Watch Manager Tim Burgess from Havant Fire Station advised:

"The occupiers had attempted to put out the fire in the thatch roof themselves with a hose before requesting the assistance of the fire service.  However, in this situation we strongly recommend that  residents immediately vacate the building and dial 999 and leave the firefighting to the experts."

He continued:

"Upon our arrival we could see lots of heavy smoke in the vicinity, flames were visible in the thatch and the windy conditions were assisting the developing fire. Firefighters tackled the fire from both outside of the property and from within the internal loft space where crews worked in arduous conditions as access was difficult. This type of incident shows the devastating effects that a thatch fire can have.  I urge thatch property householders to contact their local fire station for advice and guidance on preventative measures and maintenance tips specifically relevant to living in a thatch to help reduce the risk of fire."

The occupants of the thatched property, which included two adults, one child and two dogs, had evacuated the property safely. Volunteers on call with the Red Cross in Hampshire also leapt into action to assist at this incident.  Mobilised by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) team made their way to Warblington to provide emotional and practical support to the family. 

The FESS vehicle is kitted out with necessities such as a clothing bank, toiletries, a phone, documents and space for a team of fully-trained Red Cross volunteers to offer hands on help at the scene of the fire.  As well as immediate assistance, the Red Cross volunteers can also contact a victim’s insurance company, arrange alternative accommodation, help to secure a property and sort out utilities.

A full fire investigation will be undertaken to determine the cause of the fire.