Sunday, 24 March 2019

Couple left homeless after blaze rips through house

Couple left homeless after blaze rips through house

A COUPLE’S home was badly damaged in a fire which started in their garage and spread to the roof.

Tim Hirst and Andrea Turner’s house in Church Road, Benson, is now uninhabitable following the blaze on Friday night.

The couple were out when the alarm was raised by a passer-by who spotted the fire in the garage at about 9.45pm. It began in a freezer and quickly spread as far as the roof.

Neighbours reported seeing large flames shooting into the sky as the blaze took hold.

Another passer-by smashed a patio door with rocks to rescue the couple’s nine-year-old cocker spaniel Barney from inside.

Six fire engines and a hydraulic platform were called to the scene. Firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control using large hose lines before sending crews wearing breathing apparatus inside to tackle the flames. The owners were visiting friends in Nettlebed and were unaware of the drama until about 11.15pm as they didn’t have a mobile phone signal.

Mrs Turner, 49, said: “We were getting up to leave and my phone suddenly got a signal. I received a voice message from my next door neighbour saying ‘your house is on fire’. I hung up straight away and phoned her.

“I didn’t know if they’d got the dog out or how bad it was. I spoke to my neighbour and she reassured me somebody had got him out.

“We drove home from Nettlebed and by the time we got there the fire was out.

“The road was blocked off, so we parked our car in front of the tape and ran up the road and said, ‘oh my God, this is our house’. Yes, I was shocked, but I just wanted to go and find my dog and make sure he was all right.

“The fire crews were still working because it was still smouldering. Our neighbours were all outside and they took us in and gave us tea and support.

“Because it was dark you couldn’t really see the extent of the damage. You could see the roof and the garage were gone but they didn’t let us around the back.

“We went in with the fire brigade and got a few belongings out. Not everything was completely ruined but I really don’t know until the loss adjuster comes round.

“There’s water dripping out the light fittings — a lot of damage is from the water. The roof has collapsed so the whole of the upstairs is filled with roof tiles and charred rafters.”

The couple are currently staying with neighbours. Mrs Turner, who works at the Treehouse School in Cholsey and Mr Hirst, a trainee geography teacher, have lived at the property for 18 months.

She said: “Now it is uninhabitable. Where we will actually stay we don’t know yet. I’m trying to stay positive — it could have been worse.”

Chris Bray, of the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our specialist fire investigator is currently working to try to establish the cause of the fire but it is considered to be accidental.

“The fire was reported by a passer-by who spotted the fire in the garage.

“The prompt dialling of 999 ensured that the right resources were sent to the scene as quickly as possible.

“We would like to remind the public that the safest thing to do if they notice a fire is to ensure that everybody gets out, stays out and that the fire service is called as quickly as possible.”

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