A BLAZE that damaged a farmhouse in Cheriton was probably caused by rodents gnawing through cables.

Fire investigators spent yesterday (May 26) assessing the scene at the historic property on North End Lane after fire broke out in the roof the previous evening.

They found the origin of the fire was most likely to have been electrical cabling in the roof, which had seen its PVC insulation chewed off by rodents, the fire service said this afternoon.

Though part of the house's roof and top floor were badly damaged, the officer in charge of the incident paid tribute to the firefighters who managed to keep much of the property intact.

Station Manager Mark Budden said: “The firefighters worked extremely hard to stop the fire spreading to the rest of the roof and also salvaged much of the owner’s property from the house.

“The first crew on the scene put in place a really good plan, which ultimately saved much of the roof and top floor of the building."

Eight people, four adults and four children were in the house at the time and managed to evacuate. They were then able to call 999 to raise the alarm. No-one was hurt in the incident.

Station Manager Budden added: “The family did absolutely the right thing. In the event of a fire, we urge people to get out, stay out and call us out.”