A fire which left a Great Gransden couple homeless most likely started by sparks from the chimney of the thatched cottage.

A fire at a thatched house in Great GransdenA fire at a thatched house in Great Gransden

A fire at a thatched cottage which left a Great Gransden couple homeless was most likely started by sparks from the chimney, according to the fire service.

More than 50 firefighters were called to the fire, on May 9, which started in thatched roofing of the cottage in West Street, at about 10.30pm.

An investigation into the fire by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service revealed that the "most probable" cause were sparks from the chimney.

Following the blaze, the fire service has urged owners of homes with thatched roofs to carry out regular checks around the home in order to prevent similar and potentially devastating fires.

Head of community fire safety, group commander Kevin Napier, said: "Nationally, the most common cause of thatched roof fires is the transfer of chimney heat. As a thatched roof is designed to shed water, this type of fire is always notoriously difficult to extinguish once the fire has taken hold.

"Good housekeeping and an awareness of potential dangers when maintaining a thatched roof property are essential to ensure that a fire can be prevented where possible.

"This includes regular checks on electrical fittings, regular chimney inspections, ensuring the property has working smoke alarms fitted correctly and that any work carried out in and around the property is done so in a manner that is considerate of the thatch."

At the time of the incident in Great Gransden, the homeowners were inside the house as the fire began to take hold before a neighbour alerted them to thatch being on fire, and they were able to escape unharmed.

The fire was in the roof and spread across the thatch, which spread across the cottage, leaving it badly damaged.

During the effort to stop the blaze, some crews worked to cut away the thatch to try and stop it spreading.