Family escape as fire rages in rooftop

PUBLISHED: 08:08 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 07:09 30 May 2010

House fire between White Roding and Leden Roding.
January 03, 2009.
Photograph by Michael Boyton.
Pic shows: The fire-damaged house.

House fire between White Roding and Leden Roding. January 03, 2009. Photograph by Michael Boyton. Pic shows: The fire-damaged house.

A FAMILY had a dramatic escape on New Year s Eve when a blaze devastated their home. Phillippa and Toby Meadows, and their four children, were entertaining guests at around 6pm at their farm house in Leaden Roding when fire tore through the roof. The part

A FAMILY had a dramatic escape on New Year's Eve when a blaze devastated their home.

Phillippa and Toby Meadows, and their four children, were entertaining guests at around 6pm at their farm house in Leaden Roding when fire tore through the roof.

The party were dining by candlelight due to an earlier power cut, but Mr Meadows raised the alarm after investigating an "orange light" he thought was from an emergency vehicle.

Mrs Meadows said: "Because we had suffered a power cut we were waiting for an emergency electrician to come out and fix the problem. Toby spotted an orange light out of the front window and assumed it was the vehicle.

"He ventured outside and discovered that the light was in-fact the entire roof of the house on fire. He rushed back in an ordered everyone to get out."

In total 20 people, including ten children aged between one and 16 and elderly grandparents, fled the building.

"It was very scary because we were all in pitch black darkness," added Mrs Meadows. "We had to leave very quickly and two of my youngest children were terrified because we couldn't get them shoes or coats to put on.

"We tried not to panic, and having done fire drills in the past we knew what to do. We only took about two minutes to get everyone out but it was terrifying because burning debris was falling from the roof.

"We did leave the family dog behind. He is deaf and had not heard all the commotion. Luckily the firemen found him in his basket fast asleep and uninjured."

Some 25 firefighters took over 13 hours to completely extinguish the blaze.

Leaden Roding fire station watch manager, Doug Read, who completes 20 years of service this week, said: "It wasn't how I was planning to spend my New Year's Eve but with this job you never know what's going to happen."

The Red Cross provided clothes and support for the family, who are currently being looked after by friends. Uttlesford District Council has pledged to help them find temporary accommodation in Takeley, and has offered suitable sheltered housing to the grandparents.

Mrs Meadows said: "We are just very relieved that everyone is ok and we can move on from this. The council has been amazing and our friends and neighbours have been incredibly supportive by washing our clothes and helping us get back on our feet. We cannot thank them all enough.

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