Agony for couple as their home and business are lost in blaze

Sue Dolby who was left devastated by the fire which destroyed her home
Sue Dolby who was left devastated by the fire which destroyed her home

A woman who saw her house and business burned to the ground has spoken of her heartbreak at seeing the inferno which engulfed her property.

Sue and Melvin Dolby’s home in The Causeway, Thorney, was completely destroyed last Monday in a huge fire.

A dozen vintage cars, used in the couple’s Classic Wedding Car business were also destroyed in the blaze.

Mr Dolby (66) suffered a heart attack in the fire, and has been recovering in Peterborough City Hospital.

The fire started at about 6pm on Monday.

Mrs Dolby (65) said: “I was just about to finish the ironing, when Mel came rushing in and said to call the fire brigade. He said there was a fire in the garage.

“I went out and he was there with a hosepipe, There were flames out of the back of the Beauford limousine.

“We don’t know what started it, but it just blew up, and the flames caught other bits of the workshop.

“I managed to go and get my phone from upstairs, but I forgot my bag.”

When the fire service arrived, they faced problems tackling the flames because of a damaged fire hydrant near-by.

Mrs Dolby said: “When the first fire engine came, they said it would not catch the house. But there was central heating oil, which melted the pipe, which set fire to the house.

“My three dogs were inside - a German Shepherd, a Golden Retriever and a Yorkshire Terrier.

“The retriever came out when we called, and the German Shepherd followed.

“But Daisy, the Yorkie, was still inside, Mel kicked the door in, and then 10 minutes later she came out. She had damage to the pads on her paws, and needed to be at the vets until the weekend.

“We put the dogs in a car, and I stayed with them. It was then that Mel had a heart attack, and an ambulance was called.

“He said he didn’t have any pains down his arm, but he has been looked after in hospital.”

“The retriever is staying with me with family, and she is still petrified of any noise that is made in the middle of the night. She thinks it is a fire again until she sees someone walking down the stairs.

“We have lost everything in this. It is not things like plates and crockery, but wedding photos and baby photos that you cannot replace that have all gone.

“It is heartbreaking.”

Mrs Dolby said she still got upset seeing the remains of the house and business.

She said: “This was Mel’s life’s work. He had done the carpentry on the house, and he loved the cars.

“It is seeing the cars like this that gets me most upset. Some of them look like they can be restored, but others are completely destroyed. Mel said he did not want to go back into doing cars again after this, but we will see what happens when he is better.

“We are planning on living here in a caravan until we have a new house built on the same footprint as before. But a garage would be further from the house.”

However, despite the devastation, Mrs Dolby said she had been surprised by the kindness shown by others following the disaster.

She said: “The other day a woman came up to the house and gave us a bunch of tulips. She said she did not have any money, but wanted to do something for us.

“At the hospital a couple of people have set up a fund to help us out, and someone gave us £100. I think there are more kind people out there then nasty people, and sometimes it takes something like this to make you realise.”

An investigation by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service revealed the fire had been started accidentally.

Brides should get in touch

The couple run Classic Wedding Cars Peterborough, and had a dozen vintage vehicles, including Rolls Royces and Bentleys - but all 12 were burned out in the fire.

Sue said: “We had about 140 bookings going through to next year. Some people have contacted us after hearing the news, but there are still quite a few who have not been in touch, including some who are getting married next month.

““We have had a number of people contact us offering us wedding cars as replacements as well. People have been so kind.”

Anyone who has booked cars with the firm is asked to call 07885 706549 or 07850 268054.