The heartbroken owner of a thatched cottage in Somerset that went up in flames suddenly yesterday was shortly due to open a bed and breakfast business there.

Ian Allen owner of the Granary Barn, in Thorney, near Langport, with his wife Deborah and daughter Molly, aged 13, escaped the fire which destroyed the thatched roof and timbers of their home.

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    Firefighters at Thorney, Somerset, tackle a blaze started by a chimney fire which destroyed the thatch roof. The devastated owners were shortly due to open a B&B business.

Mr Allen, clutching items from his home, said: “I lit the fire and heard a rush, the chimney caught fire within 20 seconds, I put the fire out in the fireplace but the thatched roof still caught alight”

Marc House, station manager and incident commander with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said “ The initial report came in at 12.07pm. Crews from Martock and Yeovil found on arrival the roof fully involved with fire fanned by strong wind and smoke going over the road.”

Twelve fire engines and support vehicles attended the emergency. Ten firefighters with breathing tanks managed to salvage possessions, which Mr House said is important to occupiers in distress. He urged home owners to have chimneys swept and working smoke detectors installed.

Fire crews from across Somerset were called to aid the Yeovil and Martock crews, with engines from Crewkerne, Street, Bridgwater, Taunton, Wiveliscombe, Castle Cary, Burnham and an aerial ladder from Yeovil arriving.

It took until after 3pm to quell the fire, which also caused disruption on nearby roads.

It is very important to have you chimney swept annually even more so with thatched properties. House insurance firms are now setting strict guidelines on what needs to be done to make sure you are covered.

Any Questions or for any advice call Alfred Poppins Chimney Sweeping.