A family were left devastated after returning from holiday to find their £400,000 luxury home burnt to the ground – after SQUIRRELS chewed through electrical wires in the loft.
The cheeky rodents sparked a huge blaze which gutted the roof, first floor and much of the ground floor interior of the semi-detached property in Cuffley, Herts.
Six fire crews desperately tried to battle the flames but the three bed bungalow, worth around £410,000 and situated in London’s leafy commuter belt, could not be saved.
Owners Glen and Laura Borner were forced to rush back from a weekend break when police alerted them to the devastation.
Horrified neighbours looked on as up to 30 fire-fighters spent more than three hours battling the blaze which started at around midnight last Friday.
Investigators returned at 9am the following morning and found the fire was started by squirrels, who burrowed into the loft and chewed on electricity cables.
Neighbour Teresa Angel, 57, who watched the devastation unfold, said the fire had shocked local residents.
She said: ”It was awful, the flames were huge and our whole road was filled with emergency services and fire-fighters.
”It’s only a little street so everyone was just thankful it didn’t spread any further.
”It’s so odd that it was caused by squirrels, you just don’t expect it to happen.”
The couple’s next door neighbour, who did not wish to be named, had part of his roof and chimney burnt when the fire spread to his home, which is attached to the Borner’s house.
He said: ”We got out of the house as quickly as we could. I was in with my wife and children.
”There is not a great deal of damage compared to next door, we just thank god that no-one was hurt.
”Once you got outside you could see exactly where it had started, the heat coming off it was incredible.”
Another neighbour who did not wish to be named, was still awake when the blaze ripped through the house and described the carnage.
She said: ”We saw the whole thing. The entire upper part of the house was ablaze.
”The flames were about 20 to 30ft high and took emergency services a long time to extinguish.
”It was a scary thing and has completely destroyed their home.”
A Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said they had received eleven calls from terrified neighbours as the blaze took hold.
She said: ”It is believed that the fire began after squirrels burrowed into the loft and chewed on some electricity cables.
”No one was hurt in the fire and the family has currently vacated the house while discussions are carried out with insurers.”
Marc Borner, 22, who lives with his parents at the house, today said the family were too distraught to comment on the blaze.
He said: ”It is absolutely awful.”