A DEVASTATED man has described how he watched his possessions go up in smoke after discovering the roof of his thatched cottage was on fire.
Roger Chown, 67, said he and his wife Gill, 57, were lucky to escape the blaze, which tore through their home in School Lane, Maxey. The blaze destroyed Mr Chown’s cottage and the cottage of his next door neighbour Kevin Gaston.
The fire started at about 6.35pm on Wednesday in the wood burner at Mr Chown’s property.
Eight fire appliances were called to tackle the blaze which caused the roofs of the 350-year-old cottages to collapse, and was still smouldering yesterday morning.
Mr Chown said: “We have lived here for 30 years and all our possessions and precious things have been destroyed in just hours.
“I’m devastated but at the same time know it could have been worse - at least my wife and I were able to get out and weren’t hurt.
“We were settling down for dinner when a boy from the village knocked on our door and told us the roof was on fire - thank god he did because we were able to escape.
“I’ve only just retired and was looking forward to spending some quality time at home with my wife.
“I’m told that the building is structurally safe, but it’s going to take months to repair.”
After calling the fire service, Mr Chown dashed outside and grabbed a ladder and a hosepipe in an effort to fight the flames himself.
He said: “I climbed up the ladder and started spraying water on the roof but it made no difference.
“Sparks were flying up all over the roof and I could see that it was going to spread.
“The fire crews came and did an excellent job but I could only watch on as the roof caved in.”
Mr Chown said he had been inundated with offers of temporary accommodation in the village and thanked his neighbours for their help.
Mr Gaston said that he, his wife and two children were not harmed in the blaze but he was too upset to talk.