A leading firefighter has praised the community spirit of a small village near Banbury after a serious fire at a thatched property this morning (Tuesday).
Firefighters from Banbury, Deddington and Chipping Norton attended the incident in Middle Lane, Balscote at about 10.35am.
Thames Valley Fire Control Service received a call and six fire engines and support vehicles were mobilised to the blaze as well as resources from neighbouring counties.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus quickly entered the property and worked in arduous conditions using hose reels hold back the fire, whilst the belongings were salvaged.
Smoke engulfed the village and very quickly the local community rallied to assist, with a human chain being formed to salvage as much from the property as possible.
Fire crews will be on scene for several hours damping down whilst a structural engineer from Cherwell District Council assesses the building and fire investigators determine the cause.
Fire crews worked closely with Thames Valley Police to ensure the scene was safe and resources could make a swift attendance.
West Midlands Power were called to make safe an electric cable and to restore power to the village and Thames Water attended to assist with water management.
Incident Commander, group manager Kerry Blair, said: “Even though this village is in a very rural location on the edge of Oxfordshire the initial fire crews were on scene remarkably quickly.
“The fire crews were faced with a fire that was spreading very quickly and prioritised holding back the fire to enable the salvage operations to be undertaken.
“I have to say a special thanks the villagers’ of Balscote who showed real community spirit, they descended on the property within minutes and were a tremendous help with the salvage operations.
“In this instance the occupier discovered the fire as he saw wafts of smoke drift past the window, but the house did have working smoke alarms which soon operated.
“The owner did exactly the right thing by getting out, staying out and calling the fire service out.
“We urge all residents to ensure they have a working smoke alarm on each level of their home and check them weekly.”
Visit www.365alive.co.uk for fire safety advice.