Page last updated at 12:06 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

Squirrels start Lord Mayhew fire

Lord Mayhew
Lord Mayhew said the roof of the cottage had been virtually destroyed

Squirrels may have caused a fire which destroyed the roof of a cottage in Kent owned by former attorney general Lord Mayhew.

Firefighters spent nearly two hours fighting the blaze at the property in Goudhurst, near Cranbrook.

"It is pure conjecture but the fire commander on the spot said it looked possible that it was caused by squirrels," said Lord Mayhew.

It is thought the squirrels may have chewed through electrical wires.

'No one hurt'

Tenants live in the property, near Lord Mayhew's home, but they were not in when it caught fire on Wednesday.

"I am glad to say no one was hurt but unfortunately the roof has been virtually destroyed," he said.

"The fire brigade attended in very good time and they saved the building.

"We came home to find it well alight. Our reaction is of extreme dismay and anxiety."

Lord Mayhew was MP for Tunbridge Wells between 1974 and 1997 and served as attorney general and Northern Ireland secretary.

He said repairs to the cottage would take about six months, and his tenants were staying with family in the meantime.

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