On April 10 2011 Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service worked through the night at a thatched property fire in Coleford, near Crediton. A total of 32 appliances attended the scene, the thatch was a centre two-floor cottage in a row of three and fire breaks were created in the roof by stripping away the thatch.
The firefighters managed to save a considerable amount of belongings from the interior of the property ranging from toys, books, furniture, paintings, through to clothes. One item that was a last minute decision to save was the family's upright piano much to the delight of owners Francisca van Holthoon and John Richards. 
Francisca explained: "I would like to say how immensely grateful we are that the crew managed to save so many of our belongings, especially our piano which doesn't even need retuning. We were baffled at first as to how it was safely removed as the door where the piano was carried into the house originally had been made into a window." 
Watch Manager, Gary Shaw and four firefighters manoeuvred the piano from the living room, past the bottleneck by the stairs where it became stuck so was turned upside down, before emerging from the front door upright, safe and sound. 
"It's been a strange and devastating time for us, but we are now more or less settled in a rented house not far from our old house. Every time I drive past the sorry heap of burned thatch and crumbling cob remains I feel a huge sense of loss, but I know that the fire service could not have done more to try and save our house and at least the neighbours' houses were saved." 
"It's hugely comforting to have a few familiar belongings in our new and alien home. Without the fire services enormous determination and dedication we would have ended up with nothing familiar!
"My special thanks go to the 'quintet', who took the unlikely decision to save our very heavy Daneman piano. One day we may be able to rebuild our house, but no more thatched roofs for us, ever!"
Posted: 11.00, 8/7/11, rachael.haydon@pavpub.com