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Praise for hero builders who tackled blaze as White Horse Housing Association welcomes first tenant at village development

Hero builders have been praised for rushing to the rescue of an elderly homeowner after her thatched cottage caught fire.

The builders, who were working on new homes for White Horse Housing Association at Hazel Green in Urchfont, spotted flames coming from the roof of a 200-year-old cottage next to the site.

After calling the fire and rescue service, site manager Mark Hall and colleagues climbed over a 6ft fence to tackle the blaze with fire extinguishers.

White Horse Housing Association chair David Trethewey, speaking as the first of the association’s four homes were handed over to a tenant, praised the builders’ quick thinking.

“What they did was very impressive and very resourceful,” he said.

Mark, who works for developer Acorn Homes, said: “I didn’t stop to think, I just wanted to make sure the lady and her two dogs got out. I could see the fire was well ablaze and then it went inside so we went inside the cottage and tried to keep it under control while the other lads were trying to contain the thatch fire until the fire brigade came.

“Unfortunately we only delayed the inevitable but at least whatever we did allowed the firefighters to get all of her possessions out.”

More than 60 firefighters tackled the fire, which gutted the property. Mark said: “I feel very sorry for the lady. I’d do it again because that’s what I’m like, but I’ll probably put something over my face next time as I suffered with the smoke.”

Mark and David welcomed new tenant Claire White to her two-bedroom home when she collected her keys.

She said she had been desperate for somewhere and her six-year-old daughter Meredith to live after her landlord in Devizes decided to sell up.

“It is a nightmare, I have been searching for somewhere for a year,” she said.

“I tried to do shared ownership but you still had to have the deposit and the mortgage rates were just going up and up. I was going to rent again but I had been paying £925 a month in Devizes and anything similar was now costing £1,200.”

Claire, who works as a catering assistant at The Trinity C of E Primary School in Devizes, said she applied to the housing association because her daughter’s father and grandmother live in Chirton and it aims to help people with local links live nearby.

Her new monthly rent will be £658.

“I cried when I was told I had got this place, I was just so relieved,” she said. “It gives us some certainty and security. I’m just so grateful to White Horse Housing Association.”

Pictured: Claire White receives the keys to her new home at Hazel Green in Urchfont from White Horse Housing Association chair David Trethewey

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