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The BBC's Robert Hall
"Crews beaten back by white heat"
 real 28k

William Hague
"Waiting for news"
 real 28k

Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 18:45 GMT
MP feared dead in fire

Fire at Mr Colvin's house
The house is virtually destroyed by flames


Police believe Conservative MP Michael Colvin and his wife Nichola have died in a massive fire which destroyed their country mansion.

Fire crews were still damping down the shell of the Colvins' home eight hours after being called to the blaze.

Police have abandoned any attempt to enter the ruins until Friday at the earliest.


I tried to open the door but it was too hot.
Alvaro Pereira
The Colvins butler
But a police spokesman said: "It is our belief that Mr Colvin and his wife may have perished in this fire."

The Colvins' butler, Alvaro Pereira, 67, and another estate worker - both of whom live in the grounds - tried to enter the 10-bedroomed house as the devastating fire took hold.

Mr Pereira said: "I tried to open the door but it was too hot then I just waited for the fire brigade to come and I could do nothing."

Firefighters were told two people were trapped inside Tangley House but their efforts to enter the burning building were beaten by the intense heat as strong winds fanned the flames.

Firemen at the scene Firefighters tackle the huge blaze
About 70 firefighters were called to the house, built in 1911 and set in an 855-acre estate.

"The masonry has absorbed so much heat and it's still very unstable. We can't go in at the moment because the chimney stacks could drop at any time," said a fire service spokesman.

He said the base of the house was filled with rubble from the collapsed roof and floors, which the crew would have to sift through when safe.

The blaze, which was first reported at 0400GMT on Thursday, is said to have destroyed up to 95% of the building.

Michael Colvin Michael Colvin: Missing
Reports say only the eastern end of the imposing, two-storey building remains intact.

All 14 of the property's front windows were missing and four large chimneys that remained standing were shrouded in a pall of white smoke as the building continued to smoulder.

Mr Pereira said the last person to see the Colvins was the estate secretary at about 1600 GMT on Wednesday.

The BBC's Emma Howard said Mr Colvin's son had arrived at the scene and was also reported to believe his parents had been at home.

Country Sports member

Mr Colvin has been described as one of the few remaining Tory squires at Westminster.

An executive member of the 1922 Committee, he held Romsey for the Conservatives in the 1997 general election with an 8,585 majority.

The MP, who has one son and two daughters, is chairman of the Council for Country Sports and spent eight years as vice-chairman of the British Field Sports Society.

Mr Colvin has served on a number of committees, including the defence sub-committee, and was a keen supporter of trade links with South Africa.

As well as his Hampshire property, Mr Colvin also owns woodland in Scotland.
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See also:
24 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Tories in shock over Colvin fire
24 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Michael Colvin MP: Tory squire

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