THE owner of this thatched cottage was rescued by police after officers spotted smoke and smashed his door down.

Ed Hunt was fast asleep in his room yesterday morning with his thatched roof burning just feet away – but escaped uninjured thanks to the intervention of PCs Glenn Rees and Warren Edmunds.

Mr Hunt, aged 65, of Holt Heath, said: “I was totally startled.

“They were shouting ‘get out, get out’. There was some smoke above where I was lying so I came downstairs, grabbed a shirt and some tracksuit bottoms and got out. They had already called the fire brigade.”

Neighbour Debs Houghton, who lives in the Holt Fleet cottage’s annex, and her partner Will Blake were also woken by officers.

Miss Houghton said: “If it wasn’t for the police, he would have died.

“If it was 10 minutes later I think the smoke would have got him.”

The couple first heard police at about 1am.

She said: “To start with it sounded like hooligans having a party. 

“I could hear banging but because I was half asleep I thought I was dreaming.

“Will went to the window and by that time we had seen orange.”

Police officers used the couple’s hosepipe to try to tackle the flames which were concentrated in the two corners of the bottom part of the roof.

Fire crews from Worcester, Droitwich, Evesham and Upton fought the fire using water from the nearby river.

Mr Hunt, Miss Houghton and Mr Blake initially sought shelter in Mr Hunt’s caravan but were later able to use a Red Cross van.

Mr Hunt, a retired gas turbine engineer, said his 400 year old Fleet Road home was uninhabitable and he was not insured because of an onging dispute with his insurance company.

He said: “There’s a lot of water and smoke damage.

“It looks like the lounge has had it and the two bedrooms and the bathroom. That’s virtually the whole house.

“I’ve been there 30 odd years. There’s a lot of history to it but maybe I’m being pushed to move on?”

The cottage is just yards away from where 67-year-old Manny Feruggia died after a fire broke out in his caravan last April.

And Mr Hunt said just three months ago he was staying in the Philippines when the recent storm hit.

It is not yet known how the fire started.