Cranbrook blaze believed to be deliberately started

PUBLISHED: 12:50 15 December 2015 | UPDATED: 13:44 18 December 2015

This photo, taken by Rio O'Connor at 1am this morning, shows fire crews tackling the thatched roof blaze in Yarlington Mill, Cranbrook.

This photo, taken by Rio O'Connor at 1am this morning, shows fire crews tackling the thatched roof blaze in Yarlington Mill, Cranbrook.

Archant

The incident happened at 1.08am this morning (Tuesday, December 15), in Yarlington Mill.

A blaze which broke out on thatched roof property in Cranbrook in the early hours of the morning is thought to be started deliberately.

The incident happened at 1.08am this morning (Tuesday, December 15), in Yarlington Mill.

Three fire engines from Exeter and Ottery St Mary, as well as the water carrier from Exeter, were mobilised to the scene following a call made to Devon and Somserset Fire and Rescue Service.

On arrival, crews confirmed that the thatched roof on a derelict farm house was well alight, and got to work extinguishing the fire using two hose reel jets and one main jet.

After fighting the thatched roof and first floor blaze, crews sectorised the incident.

The building was showing signs of collapse so firefighters withdrew from the sectors to keep themselves at a safe distance.

From nearly 5am this morning, the building was being allowed to burn out under controlled supervision and a relief crew was mobilised from Exmouth.

A relief crew from Middlemoor was also at the scene, arriving at 9am this morning.

Cranbrook residents have rallied on Facebook, taking to their popular discussion forum, Belonging to Cranbrook, to share support and make sure people are safe.

Photos have also surfaced on the thread, showing the devastating damage caused by the blaze.

A resident of Yarlington Mill, Rio O’Connor, spoke to the Herald about the terrifying moment she woke up to the drama unfolding outside her window.

She said her partner first heard a smash around 12.30am, but thought nothing of it and went back to sleep.

But roughly half an hour later, she woke to the chaotic scenes behind her house.

Rio, who has a five-month old daughter, said: “About 1am, all of the lights from the fire engines came through my window. My hallway and windows were orange because of the flames and I could feel the heat. It was quite frightening.”

Rio said that residents further down from her were evacuated from their houses, and a fireman had to use her back garden to get access to put out the fire.

She added: “I was panicking, and I am still feeling quite sick now.

“Waking up to that is quite dramatic, especially as I have a five month old child.

“I had no idea this was happening until my partner looked out the windows.”

Rio initially thought the blaze had broken out next door because of the strength of the orange light and heat radiating through her window.

“I had to shut our vents because of all the heat and smoke,” she added. “It was very scary to wake up to.

“I was trying to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t - my heart felt like it was coming out of my chest.”

A spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: “This incident is now confirmed as a detached derelict thatched property consisting of two floors and measuring approximately 30 metres by 10 metres.

“The whole building has been severely damaged by fire and crews have used two main jets and two hose reel jets to extinguish it.

“Fire crews will continue to deal with hotspots. The cause of the fire is believed to be deliberate.”

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