Fire chief evacuated own parents during a major blaze at Newport home

PUBLISHED: 14:20 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:21 02 January 2018

Firefighters tackle a blaze at a Tudor home in High Street, Newport. Picture: ESSEX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

Firefighters tackle a blaze at a Tudor home in High Street, Newport. Picture: ESSEX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

Archant

A fire chief evacuated his own parents as crews battled a major blaze at a Newport home.

A Tudor house, believed to be the oldest property in Newport, was destroyed in the blaze.

The fire, which is being investigated, is thought to have started in several different places within the High Street building.

It was well under way by the time the fire service was called, around 5am on New Year’s Eve.

The family who live there, a mother and two grown-up children, were away on a skiing holiday and due back on New Year’s Day. They came home to find the house uninhabitable.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the property to check no-one was inside. However they had to withdraw as the staircase collapsed and the building became unstable.

The officer in charge of Newport Fire Station, Neil Byford, arrived at the inferno to find it was next door to his parent’s home. Seeing that the roof was about to fall in, he evacuated his mother and father to his own home in Widdington, calling his wife to fetch them.

He told the Reporter: “We had to withdraw the crew working upstairs because the staircase was about to collapse. We couldn’t thoroughly search the house until 2pm in the afternoon.”

They continued their search on New Year’s Day.

He said: “The fire was very well developed when we arrived. It was one of the hottest fires we have dealt with. Most of the house was timber and the fire spread through the voids.”

Six fire engines were called and crews found the house completely filled with smoke and flames spreading through the ground floor and roof. Crews came from Newport, Saffron Walden, Stansted, Thaxted and Great Dunmow, as well as an aerial ladder from Harlow, used to get more water onto the roof and neighbouring properties.

The fire was out by 8.20am. The High Street was closed while crews worked to extinguish remaining “hot spots”.

Next door neighbours Eric and Joan Byford were alerted to the blaze when Mrs Byford smelled the smoke. She told the Reporter: “I am a light sleeper and I smelled smoke, I ran round the house and thought ‘Whatever’s on fire?’ then I saw that the light was on at the fire station [which the couple can see from their back garden]. I thought there’s a fire somewhere, I didn’t dream it was next door.”

It is understood other neighbours had already called the fire brigade.

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