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‘Oldest’ house in St John’s Wood saved from fire destruction

PUBLISHED: 15:05 09 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:54 09 September 2010

The house on fire with a fire engine outside

The house on fire with a fire engine outside

Archant

A HOUSE believed to be the oldest building in St John’s Wood was dramatically saved just five minutes from being destroyed by fire on Saturday.

A HOUSE believed to be the oldest building in St Johns Wood was dramatically saved just five minutes from being destroyed by fire on Saturday.

Flames leapt from the Grade II-listed Manor House, which dates back to 1815, on the corner of Abercorn Place and Nugent Terrace, severely damaging the roof and part of the buildings second floor.

Six fire engines and around 30 firefighters came on scene at 3pm before fighting the blaze for an hour and a half to bring it under control.

But damage to the building, whose foundations were put down in 1640, could have been far worse had two local residents not been looking at the house and noticed something wrong.

One of the residents, who lives opposite the building, said: We were just sitting on a bench opposite the house and suddenly we looked up and saw it on fire.

We said, Why is the chimney smoking at the back?

I thought Oh my God and called the fire brigade immediately.

If we hadnt been sitting there and called the fire brigade they said the roof would have fallen in and the whole house would have burnt down.

It was just luck that we were there.

Restoration work had been underway on the Georgian house for a month before the fire so it was unoccupied at the time of the blaze.

However, while the fire brigade are still investigating its cause, it is thought to have stemmed from building work in the preceding days.

The resident said: The fire brigade said it came from a spark which must have ended up inside the soffit [underside of the overhanging section of the roof] from stripping away paint with a heat gun.

They told us it had probably been smouldering for two or three days in the soffit.

Then on Saturday the wind changed direction so the spark picked up and ignited into flames inside.

If there wasnt the wind, they said it could have burned for weeks.

Luckily theres not much damage and nobody got hurt.

The fire brigade came within three minutes but if it had been five minutes more, the whole house would have been lost forever. We caught it just in time.

The house is one of a number of listed buildings along the road but it is thought the Manor House predates any other.

Building work is being undertaken to restore the house to its original state although there are fears the water used to put out the fire may now have damaged original features.


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