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Archive - Saturday, 29 August 1998
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Blaze rips through mansion
Police were today investigating a blaze which badly damaged a mansion.
The caretaker and his family returned to Lady Place in High Street, Sutton Courtenay, to find the front door open and fire throughout.
The house, owned by Reading University, escaped more serious damage because a fire engine was already in the village dealing with another incident early today.
At the height of the blaze, 100 firefighters were battling the flames. Crews had to use special breathing apparatus to venture into the smoke-filled house. Fifteen fire engines and nine specialist engines from three counties were called in.
No-one was in the house at the time, but the family smashed a back window to try to reach their pet parakeet. It was eventually rescued by firefighters.
The caretaker and his wife, who have not been named, were treated by paramedics for hand injuries.
Assistant Divisional Officer Derek Proctor said: "Just over half of the building was gutted but we managed to stop it spreading. We salvaged a lot of the contents." The top floor of house was completely gutted. Smoke was still pouring from the roof seven hours after fire crews first arrived.
Det Sgt Jim Liddiard, of Witney CID, said: "We're treating the fire as suspicious and making inquiries in co-operation with the fire service."
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