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North Devon fire crews called to massive blaze at Sydenham House near Lewdown

By NDJFran  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

  • Firefighters tackling the blaze at Sydenham House in Okehampton last night

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North Devon fire crews were called upon to help put out a fire which was blazing near Lewdown for over eleven hours last night.

Torrington and Bideford crews were called to the scene at the grade 1 listed Sydenham House at around 8.30pm.

The three-storey stately home near Lewdown, West Devon, caught fire at around 4pm and within two hours nearly 100 firefighters were tackling the flames.

The whole of the roof of the 16th Century building was on fire, as well as half of the first floor.

A spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service described it as a major incident.

He said: “The whole roof is well alight so I imagine it can be seen for some miles around,” he said.

“This is a large house over four floors. As well as the roof, much of the first floor is alight. Fortunately, the house was evacuated when the alarm was raised so there are no injuries.”

Crews from Tavistock, Okehampton, Greenbank, Plympton, Yelverton, Bere Alston, Ashburton, Hatherleigh, Crownhill, Bovey Tracey, Chagford, Holsworthy and several from Cornwall initially attended the fire.

However, further crews from Torrington, Bideford, Buckfastleigh, Moretonhampstead, Crediton, Plympton, Modbury, Princetown and Callington were later called out to provide relief.

The spokesman said crews were pouring water onto the burning building, using a total of eight jet hoses. He said water had been obtained from a lake in front of the mansion to facilitate firefighters tackling the blaze.

At one point fire crews were withdrawn from part of the building as it was feared it might collapse.

Crews worked throughout the night to tackle the blaze and by 3.30am, almost twelve hours after the building initially caught alight, the fire service confirmed the incident was being scaled down.

Firefighters remain at the scene this morning dampening down hotspots and keeping the incident under control.

An investigation is continuing today into how the fire started at the historic mansion.

The fire service said the initial 999 call reported a fire in the first-floor bedroom which quickly spread to rest of the domestic property. A smoke detection device fitted inside the property is believed to have alerted the residing family.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the roof and top-floor of the property were severely damaged by fire. Around 70% of the lower floors were damaged by water.

A spokesperson for the fire service said the family evacuated the property but remained on scene throughout the incident helping fire crews salvage belongings from the ground floor as and when it was safe to do so.

Sydenham House forms part of the Sydenham Estate, which undertakes farming and shooting functions.

Send your photos of the fire to emma.glanfield@northcliffedigital.co.uk

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