FIREFIGHTERS spent more than five hours tackling a blaze at a house in Holsworthy on Tuesday.
Fire crews from Torrington, Hatherleigh, Bude and Launceston were called to the fire at a property called Silver Crooks on Trewyn Road at around 9.30am.
They discovered the property well alight and smoke from the fire could be seen from miles around.
The elderly couple who live at the house had been in when the fire started but had evacuated the building soon after.
Incident commander Colin Mills said the fire started in a large garage adjoining the house.
He said: "That morning the couple had disposed of embers from a fire the night before in the garage. We are confident that this was the point of ignition, they must have still been very hot and set fire to surrounding items."
Mr Mills said there was a central heating oil tank in the garage.
He said: "The oil ignites when it vaporises and this caused the fire to spread to the house. It also caused an electrical surge through the house's old wiring system and spread fire to an adjoining fence and the roof of the house
"We started by attacking the roof from inside and out using the hydraulic platform from Barnstaple fire station."
Firefighters managed to save most of the roof by removing slates to control the heat of the burning timbers below.
The fire was extinguished by 3pm.
Mr Mills said: "The structural damage to the garage was pretty extensive and it will have to be rebuilt. The house will need to be completely rewired and a lot of the windows have cracked due to the heat.
"There was minor damage inside the property and several ceilings will need replacing."
Mr Mills warned: "If you are cleaning out a fire make sure you put embers and ashes into a metal bucket.
"Leave these out in the garden until they are completely extinguished or douse them in water to be sure. Embers can still be very hot."