Middleton couple return home after blaze

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Welcome home pennants greeted a Middleton couple as they returned to their cottage.

Andy Ashton and Justine Langridge took possession of the thatched detached property almost nine months after it was wrecked by a fire.

They accepted their renovated property, Oakwood, from the builders and loss adjusters last Friday at a homecoming party before they moved back the next day.

It had taken £300,000 – mainly funded by their insurers – to make it habitable again and restore it to the style the couple wanted.

Property landlord Mr Ashton, 47, said: “We can sit back and resume our lives again. We can get back to doing things like the gardening.

“It seems quite a long time since I looked up and saw the flames coming out of the roof.

“I’m not sure if I will put the fire on the first night. I’m a little bit nervous about that. If I do, it will only be three or four logs on low to start with.”

Ms Langridge, 42, a project manager, said: “It’s good to be coming back home. I’m excited. It feels like we have run a marathon but we are within sight now of the finishing line.”

The fierce blaze began just after 6.30pm last August 28.

Mr Ashton had lit the cottage’s log-burning fire after the couple had returned from a meal at his parents. He heard the loft fire alarm sounding and saw flames leaping from the thatch when he went to get a ladder from the garage to investigate.

He and Ms Langridge could only stand and watch as their home since 2008 was destroyed.

Some 100 firefighters tackled the flames. They had to take off the thatch and set about saving the three-bedroom cottage on Middleton Road.

The first floor was ruined by the blaze. The rest of the two-storey property was wrecked by water damage. It is believed the fire was caused by a stray ember from the fierceness of the log burner.

The couple lived in a rented house in Slindon while their cottage was uninhabitable after an initial month with Mr Ashton’s parents.

Restoration work on the cottage began last December 5 and the building had to be gutted. It has been returned to the condition it is believed it was in when it was built by Captain Caldecott in 1920.