Oxford

Gritting workers praised after Blenheim Palace fire

Fire engines outside Blenheim Palace
Image caption The fire is thought to have been caused by staff heating external water pipes with a flamed torch

Road-gritting workers in Oxfordshire have been praised for helping crews get to a fire at Blenheim Palace.

Firefighters were called to a small blaze on the roof of the 18th Century country house in Woodstock on Tuesday.

The fire is believed to have started after staff used a flamed torch to heat external frozen pipes, accidentally setting a bird's nest alight.

Oxfordshire fire service's Kerry Blair said gritting around the palace helped fire vehicles arrive rapidly.

Churchill's birthplace

He praised the work of Oxfordshire County Council, adding: "We managed to bring this to a successful conclusion very quickly."

The incident comes as Thames Water reported a four-fold rise in calls from customers about burst pipes.

The firm advised people to use hair-dryers to warm pipes rather than blowtorches.

Blenheim Palace, which is home to the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, was made a World Heritage Site in 1987.

It is the birthplace of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

The palace and gardens, landscaped by Capability Brown, are currently closed to the public.

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